After months of negotiations in Qatar, the Americans and the Taliban are on the verge of concluding a peace agreement. Afghan President Abdullah Abdullah has confirmed that if all goes well, the agreement will be signed by the parties by the end of February. With the presidential election approaching, Trump is looking for anything that can help him claim victory and bustle.
Various media sources report that a 7-day truce starting on Saturday February 22 will first be announced. This temporary cessation of hostilities would be the key test to assess whether the parties can control their forces and reach a peace agreement.
Therein lies the problem. Even if the Taliban respect the 7-day truce, will other Afghan jihadist groups respect it? And how do we determine who will be responsible for any breaches of the truce?
The still secret peace agreement would provide for the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan, for power-sharing negotiations to open between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which in turn would commit to fighting al-Qaeda. and Daesh, the Islamic State.
But beware, the Americans want to maintain a residual “anti-terrorist force” of 8,600 soldiers there for an unspecified period.
The Taliban have never publicly stated that they accept American troops staying in Afghanistan after the peace agreement.
Another difficulty. The Taliban is not a homogeneous organization. It is unclear whether the different tribes, factions and clans agree among themselves on the terms of such a peace agreement.
In practice, such a peace agreement will allow the Taliban to return to power from where they were driven out by the American invasion of the country in 2001.
Without the military and economic support of the Americans, the current Afghan government will be unable to prevent the Taliban from dominating a possible coalition and regaining power.
They have only to foresee a “decent interval” between the withdrawal of the last American soldiers and their effective takeover of the state.
If the peace agreement is signed, we will witness in the coming months the foreign flight of the corrupt, the regime’s profiteers, and the executives of the Americans’s low works. No doubt to the United Arab Emirates where they have been placing the money they have embezzled for years.
And what will happen between a possible Taliban-dominated government and its Islamist competitors, Daesh and Al-Qaeda? A new “civil” war, between fanatical Islamists this time, is possible. What seems inescapable is the reintegration of radical Islamism into the principles of governance of the Afghan state.
Be that as it may, 19 years of war, 2,440 dead American soldiers, 20,000 others wounded and 2,000 billion US $ (2 trillion USD) will not have enabled the world’s leading military power to defeat bands of peasants turbaned in sandals fitted with old Russian rifles from the fifties. Spy satellites, B-52s, F-18s, drones and all the American technological resources will not have saved them from hanging out in the war … and also losing face.
Will this dreadful and useless carnage end better than this other war, as absurd as it is futile, that of Vietnam. Remember the images of American diplomats evacuated by helicopter from the roof of the Embassy of Saigon and dozens of helicopters that South Vietnamese pilots crashed at sea near American aircraft carriers in order to be rescued and avoid fall into the hands of communist forces.