By Malgorzata Rudnicka
Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, noted in a BBC interview a “window of opportunity to accelerate the peace process”, with NATO yet to make its final decision on withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan.
Under the administration of former US President Donald Trump, a peace agreement was reached that stated that the US and Nato allies would remove all troops from Afghanistan within 14 months, providing the Taliban stopped attacks.
The Biden administration now intends to review this deal before completing withdrawal.
US presence in Afghanistan spans back to 2001, though the conflict dates back to 1979. Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops ten years later, the Taliban began to emerge. By the end of the 1990s, the Taliban controlled 90% of Afghanistan.
In the wake of 9/11, the Taliban were blamed for providing shelter to Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda movement responsible for the attacks, and the US began its military campaign in Afghanistan.
Under the Biden administration, the nature of the US’ relations with Afghanistan may be shifting.
Ghani has said he is delighted with the stance of Biden’s administration as well as international coherence towards the future of Afghanistan.
Although the Taliban have expressed their demand for NATO’s troops leaving, the question of whether the timing is appropriate arises.
The Trump administration prioritised the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Though it set conditions on Taliban actions, many argue the Taliban has not halted its activity and is simply carrying out attacks without claiming responsibility.
Ghani did not specify how many foreign troops are needed, saying it depends on the intensity of the war. With talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government stalling, as well as surging violence, the prospect of peace seems less certain than it did when the peace deal was made last year.
Ghani acknowledged both sides are preparing for combat, and stressed the need for a political settlement.
Many fear that a full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan would leave the Afghan people in danger of a Taliban resurgence. Vice-President Amrullah Saleh recently stated: “I am telling them [the US] as a friend and as an ally that trusting the Taliban without putting in a verification mechanism is going to be a fatal mistake.”
As has been the case for decades, the prospects of Afghanistan remain uncertain.
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