On February 29, 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha, Qatar, after more than 18 years of conflict. The agreement contained four main provisions (State Department, February 29, 2020): a final peace agreement and the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces remain important priorities. The United States has deployed combat troops to Afghanistan for nearly two decades and has urgent interests in Afghanistan and abroad – including the fight and recovery of COVID-19 and competition from major powers like Russia and China. But the Americans must be aware that peace negotiations are likely to be long and difficult. As tempting as it is to withdraw U.S. forces without agreement, it would be a mistake, especially if it is the Taliban`s fault. Withdrawing the United States from Afghanistan without a peace agreement would significantly increase the level of violence in Afghanistan, risk a growing regional war, provoke a humanitarian crisis, allow an Islamist extremist group to invade Kabul, and raise serious questions among allies about the reliability of the United States. At a conference in Kabul, the Danes said the insurgents did not believe in a peaceful solution to the conflict. “We [the Afghan government] have neither signed nor ratified this agreement [the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement] and, from our point of view and commitments, we are not responsible for the details of its contents,” he added. But the Taliban have their own leadership problems. The team negotiating the Doha peace agreement does not necessarily argue in favour of Taliban commanders on the ground, who may not be ready or able to give up the fight and lay down their arms. This leaves room for continued struggle, even after an agreement in Kabul.
Another problem is that the recent Afghan presidential elections were contested and led to a divided and dysfunctional government in Kabul. As two opponents declare themselves the winners, no one is responsible in Kabul anymore. Since the next step in the peace agreement is to hold talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, a divided and broken government in Kabul complicates this next step. The second path to a failure of an agreement involves a situation in which internal peace talks begin, but either negotiations are suspended or the implementation of an interim agreement faces serious problems. But what happens next remains a problem. Although on March 18, 2020, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan was temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. forces have already begun to leave the country. Some in the United States question the terms of the agreement and even call it a surrender document. Faced with the weakness of the Kabul government and the U.S.
branch that has supported your troops, some would say that they support the Kabul government, others fear that the Taliban will wait for American troops to leave and invade Kabul, as they did in 1995. If that happens, the 20 years of war and the loss of nearly 2,500 American lives will have nothing to do. The Afghan government could break down and trigger the end of negotiations. In February 2020, the Independent Electoral Commission announced that the incumbent President, Ashraf Ghani, had won 50.6 per cent of the vote in the September 2019 elections, making him the head of government Abdullah Abdullah, who had won 39.5 per cent of the vote. But Abdullah and his supporters denied the results, claiming widespread fraud and forming a parallel government. In May 2020, the two sides agreed. Ghani gave Abdullah the leadership role in the peace process and the right to appoint half of the cabinet. But the political situation remains tense and negotiations could fail if Abdullah – who now heads the High Council for National Reconciliation – leaves the government. Groups like the Islamic State of Chorasan could oppose the negotiations and try to attract disgruntled Taliban.