After over 18 years of an open international conflict on the soil of Afghanistan, it seems the USA and the Taliban have finally found a way to start paving a road towards peace. In a deal signed on February 29, the USA has vowed to ultimately withdraw its forces from the region within 14 months. However, without direct support from the USA, it would be difficult for the Afghan government to maintain cohesion when the Taliban decides to violate the term of the peace agreement in the future. Are we going to see another South Vietnam scenario?
With about 12,000 American soldiers still stationed in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump has already declared his intention of withdrawing the US forces in recent years. Likely more than a simple convenience, the signing of this deal shortly before the 2020 presidential elections could prove to be the final necessary drive for Trump’s re-election, similarly to Osama bin Laden’s assassination before Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012.
The agreement, however, might not be a sign of a complete ending to aggression in Afghanistan. The Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has declared that the deal to end the war did not include him as the leader of the country (Afghan government did not participate in the negotiations) and he has shown distaste to some of the terms agreed on between the USA and Taliban leaders, such as the exchange of 5,000 Taliban prisoners for 1,000 people held by the Taliban. This may prove to be a source of inner political strife even before the American forces withdraw from the region.
Moreover, the future of the Afghan internal affairs will likely be an important issue in the years to come. While Afghanistan has its elected government with national armed forces, the Taliban is unlikely to abandon its ambitions to return to power, especially since it has a foothold in the majority of the country. Despite the plans to reach an agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban regarding the Taliban’s future role in the country, negotiations may yet go awry very easily.
With the potential to brew into a new civil war in Afghanistan, the region is unlikely to stabilize anytime soon. The withdrawal of the US forces may even prompt other regional powers, such as Iran and Pakistan to participate in the country’s affairs, further destabilizing South Asia.
STRATPOL Memos is a project which on a weekly basis provides a short overview of the most important selected moments of Euro-Atlantic security and related areas. Our goal is to provide brief and informative comments with short analysis putting news into a broader context.
Responsible editor Matúš Jevčák.
Author: Marián Maraffko
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