Breaking: Afghan Deal Brings All Troops Home in 14 Months
This is much swifter than anticipated.
Thanks to a break in the violence for seven days, the U.S. has signed a deal with the Taliban that could end up fulfilling President Trump’s promise to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan for good.
There is a lot riding on this—and a lot of risk and trust involved—but here are the outlines as reported this morning:
—If the Taliban can keep their end of the bargain, which is stop the roadside and suicide terror attacks and not allow the country to become a staging ground for terrorists, then there will be a withdrawal from approximately 13,000 American troops down to 8,500 over the next 3 to 4 months (about where it was when Trump took office), with the remaining totally withdrawn from the country in 14 months.
—The deal will also touch off real negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which so far have not squarely sat down across from each other because the Taliban has not recognized the Afghan government in Kabul as legitimate. This will be a hard sticking point but according to reports today U.S. withdrawal is not contingent on whether these talks are successful, it is contingent on whether or not the Taliban can stem the terrorism in the country.
—The deal also involves, reportedly, the release of 5,000 Taliban now in Afghan custody but it is not clear how willing the Afghan government is willing to do that. It is also not clear whether all Taliban factions—including the hard-core Haqqani network—is going to be on board with this agreement, which obviously complicates the U.S. end of this.