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article imageOp-Ed: Taliban attacks continue with no peace deal with the government

By Ken Hanly     Jul 14, 2020 in Politics
Pentagon officials claim the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan continues at a good pace. There are about 8,000 troops left. The US has also withdrawn from five bases as part of the agreement with the Taliban at the end of February.
The deal with the Taliban
The US signed a deal with the Taliban at the end of February this year. The first part of the deal the US has already completed: "The drawdown process will begin with the U.S. reducing its troop levels to 8,600 in the first 135 days and pulling its forces from five bases." The remainder of the troops only need to be withdrawn by May 1 next year, 14 months after the deal was signed. Withdrawal is contingent on the Taliban keeping their part of the bargain which is basically to ensure that no militant groups are allowed to remain in Afghanistan to threaten the security of the US and its allies. There are also to be power-sharing talks with the Afghan government. The Afghan government has so far refused to carry out the terms of a prisoner swap that was part of the agreement. The Taliban has continued fighting the Afghan government but not the US except when it comes to the defense of the government.
Trump and the Pentagon
Trump may view further withdrawals before the election as helping his electoral chances, but he will probably leave some troops in the country to avoid criticism that he withdrew too soon leaving the government too weak to defend itself. The Pentagon has previously said they want to maintain as much as a presence as possible with reduced troop levels.
Leaving the five bases will be crucial to showing whether the government can continue to control the base areas even with the bases closed. It may encourage the Afghan government to try and reach a deal through talks with the Taliban while the US is still present in the country in significant numbers.
Taliban attacks continue
A recent report notes: "The Taliban took credit for an attack on an Afghan government building in Aybak city in Afghanistan’s Samangan province. The attack started with a car bomb blast and a gun battle ensued, resulting in the death of at least 10 Afghan security forces. Three attackers were also killed in the violence."
Afghanistan's National Security Council has recently agreed to release the remaining 592 Taliban prisoners in their custody. Refusal to do so earlier has caused the Taliban to continue attacks on the government. Both sides have indicated that they are willing to resume talks to reach a deal. The new release of prisoners could very well be sufficient to have this happen.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Afghan Taliban relations, Afghan civil war, US Taliban agreement
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