The Taliban`s intransigence has contributed to the rise in violence. According to the U.S. Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the Taliban stepped up their attacks on Afghan forces following the February 2020 agreement. UN data showed similar trends. Taliban attacks in April 2020 increased by 25 percent from April 2019, with violence in 20 of the country`s 34 provinces. The stakes of the peace talks in Afghanistan are extremely high. A failure, President Ashraf Ghani said last month, is “not an option.” The start of the “intra-Afghan” talks on 12 September is an important step forward in efforts to end decades of war in Afghanistan, but peace is far from guaranteed. Afghan peace talks have stalled, at least for now. The violence has intensified, and there have been revelations that the unit of GROUP 29155 , a component of the Russian military secret services, has provided assistance to the Taliban, including mud. None of this portends good things for a quick solution to the war. A peace deal that would prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism would allow the United States to withdraw its troops – from 14,000 U.S. troops to 8,600 this year – and reduce its security and development assistance.
An agreement is particularly desirable, as the United States is dealing with budgetary pressure due to the new coronavirus pandemic and competition from countries such as China. But getting an acceptable peace agreement will be a challenge. It is not clear – and perhaps unlikely – that the Taliban take an agreement seriously. Taliban leaders led by Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada may well negotiate only to persuade U.S. troops to withdraw so that Taliban troops can overthrow the Afghan government. And even if the Taliban negotiate in good faith, important issues must be resolved, from political power sharing to the role of Islam and women`s rights. At this point, an agreement would make the most of a bad situation. In the face of these challenges, the risk of the peace process collapsing or innocuous is considerable. In both cases, U.S. pressure to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan would likely increase.
Some Republicans and Democrats are already in favour of a total withdrawal of American forces, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations. But, as I said in a recent report,”A failed afghanistan peace treaty,” the withdrawal of the United States would be a mistake, especially if the Taliban are largely responsible. The United States still has interests in Afghanistan, such as preventing the country from becoming a sanctuary for terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Self-proclaimed Islamic State; avoid regional instability as Afghanistan`s neighbours, including India and Pakistan, compete for influence; Minimize the likelihood of a major humanitarian crisis; and prevent American competitors such as Iran and Russia from filling the void. Moreover, a abrupt withdrawal of the United States in the absence of a peace agreement would raise serious questions among the partners about the United States.