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Can Trump deliver a U.S. pull out from Afghanistan? (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 487.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss US President Trump’s negotiated deal with the Taliban to orchestrate an end to the US troop presence in Afghanistan.


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“Afghan peace deal shows cracks after Trump puts politics ahead of process to take credit for ending US’ longest conflict,” authored by Scott Ritter, via RT…

The Trump administration, anxious to be able to claim that it fulfilled its campaign pledge to end war in Afghanistan, pressed for a signed peace deal, leaving it to the Afghan government and the Taliban to hammer out the details.

The ink was barely dry on the historic US-Taliban Peace Agreement, however, when the Taliban announced the ceasefire that underpinned the agreement was off. At issue are 5,000 prisoners held by the Afghan government whose release is seen as a precondition for intra-Afghan talks on the future of Afghanistan. The Afghan government had not played a part in drafting the peace plan, and its decision not to release the prisoners was seen as a statement of sovereignty. At the end of the day, however, the Afghan government has no real choice but to comply.

On February 29, after more than 18 years of fighting, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, met with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a senior Taliban official, in Qatar where the two men signed a peace agreement which, if implemented, would bring an end to the Afghanistan conflict and see all American forces eventually return home. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended the signing ceremony but left the task of putting pen to paper to Ambassador Khalilzad.

Back in Washington, DC, President Trump hailed the peace agreement, noting that it set the stage for ending a conflict and thanked “the people of the United States for having spent so much in terms of blood, in terms of treasure, and treasury.” Trump said that the Taliban had been trying to reach an agreement with the US for a long time. “Everyone,” he said, “is tired of war.”

The cost of the Afghanistan War for the US was high, with more than 2,400 troops killed and another 20,000 wounded in the fighting (another 1,100 NATO and non-NATO allied soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, with more than 8,000 others wounded). As of 2019, the Department of Defense estimated the cost of the war at $737 billion.

The human cost for the people of Afghanistan has been equally severe. More than 130,000 civilians are believed to have lost their lives in Afghanistan, along with another 29,000 Afghan soldiers and police (another 20-35,000 Taliban are believed to have been killed). The economic cost for Afghanistan is equally devastating, estimated at more than $21 billion a year.

The terms of the peace deal were straightforward — the Taliban would continue to respect the ceasefire and agree not to allow either Al-Qaeda or Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) to operate from Taliban-controlled territory. For its part, the US agreed to reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan from more than 13,000 to 8,600 within 135 days of signing.

The US also committed to work closely with its NATO and non-NATO allies to proportionally reduce the number of coalition forces in Afghanistan over that period, and to pull out all remaining forces from Afghanistan within 14 months if the Taliban forces adhered to their security guarantees and ceasefire, and a political solution could be reached between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The agreement also called for a prisoner swap, with some 5,000 Taliban prisoners to be exchanged for up to 1,000 Afghan government captives by March 10, a date set by the peace agreement for intra-Afghan talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The issue of Taliban-Afghan government talks were always a sensitive issue, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fearful that any peace process that rushed ahead without providing sufficient assurances about the future of both his government and the Afghan security forces was little more than a facilitator of the eventual assumption of power by the Taliban. Ahead of the 2020 elections, the Trump administration was apparently keen to claim that it fulfilled its campaign pledge to end the war in Afghanistan, so it pressed ahead with the peace talks, leaving it up to the government in Kabul and the Taliban to agree on the details.

The day after the peace agreement was signed in Qatar, President Ghani rejected the idea that the 5,000 prisoners it held had to be released prior to any talks about the future of Afghanistan. Ghani noted that neither he nor his government had been part of any such agreement, and that the US had no authority to order the prisoners’ release. For its part, the Taliban declared that there could be no talks unless the prisoners were released, and that unless this happened by March 10, then the ceasefire, as it applied to Afghan military and security forces, would be ended.

From the standpoint of the agreement itself, Ghani’s actions were not immediately fatal; US officials have noted that the agreement, the details of which remain secret, does not make the withdrawal of US and allied troops contingent on talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government about the future of Afghanistan. By taking his position on prisoners, Ghani is playing a very weak hand poorly, overplaying the sovereignty card at a time when Afghanistan is totally reliant upon US security and financial assistance for its continued survival.

Moreover, by threatening the peace deal, Ghani is treading in American domestic politics on the cusp of a presidential election where Trump has expended considerable political capital to make an Afghan peace deal a reality. In the days ahead, concerted pressure can be expected to be brought to bear on Ghani by senior US military and diplomatic officials to get him to change his position. At the end of the day, it is President Trump, and not the Taliban, who stands to lose the most if Ghani successfully scuppers the peace agreement.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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Olivia KrotholdandjadedJohn EllisManintheMoonSmoking Eagle Recent comment authors
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Craig Watson
Guest

Laughable Trump lying as usual, clueless really. The USA never involved the Iraqi government in their so-called Taliban peace deal. The Iraqi PM refused to abide by the provision in it to release some 5000 Taliban prisoners! This peace deal was dead upon arrival obviously, back to square one in less than a week. Like I said, our entire government now has become a rogue sick joke on the planet. It no longer deserves to live.

SteveK9
Guest
SteveK9

Afghan … not Iraqi

Tex
Guest
Tex

All MAGA hat, no cattle. Time to put sleepy Joe in charge. LOL

penrose
Guest
penrose

It’s about time the White House doubled as a nursing home.
Put a big sign at the bottom of Biden’s bed:

Your name is Joe Biden. This is the White House. The year is 202X.

Smoking Eagle
Guest
Smoking Eagle

Make that an insane asylum.

SteveK9
Guest
SteveK9

The Deep State wants to stay in Afghanistan because it is right in the middle of the BRI, which they hope to disrupt. So far, the Deep State has won every time over Trump (assuming he really does want to withdraw). Trump will be portrayed as a ‘traitor to the empire’.

SteveK9
Guest
SteveK9

If Trump is re-elected he may be able … if he really wants to do it … to pull the empire back (this is what ‘America First’ meant). Most of the power in the US is aligned with the structure of the empire, and they will not want to give up and accept a retreat. The other factor is Russia/China which is pushing from the outside to contract the empire.

Smoking Eagle
Guest
Smoking Eagle

The cowboy that divided the village should get out, deal or no deal. Just get out. One-quarter of the pre-war population of Afghanistan (around five million people) fled to neighbouring Pakistan and Iran where the majority live in hundreds of refugee camps. In addition, two million Afghanis have been internally displaced. It’s not just a case of the US going home and trading prisoners, but of ending the war so that Afghanis can finally go back home, and they will go home and rebuild their country once the cowboy removes its boots. The peace deal should focus on the people… Read more »

ManintheMoon
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ManintheMoon

I’m afraid this agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on – and both sides know it, but both benefit from the charade. The Taliban is not some well controlled organisation but a loose alliance of tribal leaders. They have nothing to lose by an agreement – however spurious – that undermines the puppet government in Kabul, whether or not they believe the Americans – which they almost certainly don’t. On the American side, this is about Trump seeking re-election. He may well want to get out – probably does – but knows he will not be able to do… Read more »

John Ellis
Guest
John Ellis

The rich ruling-class in America, the 25% of society most wealthy who hoard most of the wealth, because they keep my laboring-class enslaved as the 50% working poor, we refuse to vote, which causes the 25% most wealthy to be the voting majority and to win all elections.
So, comes now super Tuesday and the rich voting majority to give Joe Biden just enough votes to beat Bernie Sanders and cause the delegate count to be about equal. And so, now you know who will win the Democrat Primary and by what margin.

oldandjaded
Member

I am just trying to clarify the timeline for my own understanding here, R/T is being ambiguous re: the timeline . Deal was signed, Taliban attacked Afghan forces, Trump phoned Taliban leader, talked for 1/2 an hour, then called in air strike? Is that the correct timeline?

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Another interesting video by the Duran.

Turkish Human Trafficker Brags: ‘I’ve Filled Europe With Immigrants’

The Multipolar Alliance Induces Rumpelstiltskin’s Self-Destruction