TALKS BETWEEN US AND TALIBAN
What’s in news?
The latest round of talks between the Taliban and the United States has ended without any signs of reaching a peace deal for Afghanistan, as both sides said they would consult their leaderships on the next steps.
Background: After the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, the USA administration was decided to place their troops in Afghanistan to eliminate the Taliban.
US President Donald Trump, aiming to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and to end the decades of war.
With this background, there was a negotiation between the US Administration and the Taliban since last year.
- The eighth round of talks, which began in Doha, Capital city of Gulf Arab nation Qatar which also focused on technical details. Neither side provided details of the outcome of the discussions in Doha, but US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad called them “productive” and Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid described them as “long and useful”.
- The two sides have been discussing an agreement under which US forces would withdraw from Afghanistan and the Taliban would guarantee the country would not revert to being a launchpad for global attacks.
- The US is also pushing for a Taliban agreement on two other, more far-reaching elements:
- Power-sharing talks with Afghanistan’s US-backed government and a ceasefire.
How has the conflict been?
- The Taliban emerged in the early 1990s following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, shortly before the demise of the Soviet Union.
- The militants ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
- They were imposing a brutal version of Sharia law that included public executions and amputations, and the banning of women from public life.
- They are in conflict with the US-led troops following the 9/11 attacks of 2001, which U.S. blamed on al-Qaeda militants sheltered by the Taliban.
- The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, most of which are present as part of a larger NATO-led mission to train, advice and assist Afghan forces.
- The conflict, known as America’s longest war, has cost more than 2,400 American lives, and billions of US dollars.
- The number of civilians, mostly women and children, killed or injured by airstrikes in Afghanistan has risen 39% year on year.
- In the past 3 years, the Taliban have strengthened their grip.
- In November 2015, the Afghan government controlled 72% of districts in the country, but now controls just 56% of them.
- Approximately a third of Afghanistan is a “contested” area.
What does the framework contain?
- Taliban has made a commitment to not allow terrorists to use Afghan territory to mount attacks on the US and its allies.
- The US has made an agreement to pull out troops.
- But this is only if the Taliban agrees to talk with the Afghan government, and to a permanent ceasefire.
- With the announcement of a near agreement, the US has outrun Moscow, which had begun its own process.
- Russia’s strategy included regional players such as Iran, China and several Central Asian states.
- India too sent a “non-official” delegation to Russia-led talks, to find a resolution in Afghanistan.
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