Afghanistan Crisis: From US-Taliban Peace Talks To Return Of Islamic State

Afghanistan Crisis: From US-Taliban Peace Talks To Return Of Islamic State

New Delhi: The Taliban has effectively taken control over most parts of Afghanistan including capital – Kabul, forcing president Ashraf Ghani to leave behind the crumbled government and flee from the country. The situation has turned grim with most foreign missions repatriating their officials and civilians as the US troops have lost the long-held grip and are being withdrawn from war-torn Afghanistan.

With the impending capture almost entire nation, the Taliban has undone the two-decades-long war effort of the US. Here’s a timeline of peace talks progress and rerun of Islamic State.  

A Look-Back At The US-Taliban Equation and Peace Progress

February 2019: US-Taliban Peace Talks Progress

After more than 18 years of conflict, the US and the Taliban signed an “agreement for bringing peace” to Afghanistan. The U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and top Taliban official Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar held negotiations on the United States withdrawing its troops from the country in exchange for the Taliban taking a pledge to block international terrorist groups from operating on Afghan soil. From here on, the diplomacy talks signaled that the then president Donald Trump would pull out about half the total U.S. deployment. The US insisted the Taliban to participate in an intra-Afghan dialogue on the country’s political structure, as well as a cease-fire.

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September 2019: US Calls Off Peace Dialogue

In a sudden move, just a week after top U.S. negotiator Khalilzad announced that an agreement had been reached “in principle”, the then US president Donald Trump in a Tweet announced to call of peace talks and canceled a secret meeting with the Taliban and Afghan President Ghani after a U.S. soldier was killed in a Taliban attack.  From there on, the tension grew as the Taliban agreed to “continuing negotiations” but warned of increase in the number of deaths if negotiations “cancelled”.

February 2020: US – Taliban Deal on Path to Peace

The US and the Taliban inked an agreement wherein the Taliban vowed that the country will not be used for terrorist activities. While on one hand the deal stated that intra-Afghan negotiations should begin the following month, the Afghan President on the other hand said that the Taliban must meet his government’s own conditions before it enters talks. Within days after signing deal, Taliban attacked dozens of Afghan security forces. US forces retaliated with an air strike, with once again turned the situation grim.

September 2020: Intra-Afghan Peace Talks Begin

Almost after twenty years of war, the Taliban and Afghan government met face to face for the first time in Doha after the Afghan government completed the release of five thousand Taliban prisoners. After months of delay, both sides began direct negotiations and expressed eagerness to bring peace to Afghanistan and establish a framework for Afghan society after U.S. troops withdraw. During the negotiations, the Afghan govt demanded cease-fire while Taliban pushed for the country to be governed through an Islamic system.

ALSO READ | Afghans ‘Tie Themselves To Aircraft Wheels’ In Desperate Attempt To Flee Taliban-Captured Kabul, Fall Off Mid-Air

November 2020: US Announces Withdrawal of Troops

Days before Joe Biden’s official take over as elected President, the acting US Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller announced to cut down the number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by mid-January. The announcement came as negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban were deadlocked and the militant group continued to launch deadly attacks. While thousands of troops had already been pulled out following an agreement with the Taliban in February, the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that withdrawing troops could allow Taliban to rebuilt its caliphate, turning the country an open land for terrorist.

April 2021: Biden Calls For Complete Withdrawal of US Troops by 9/11

“It’s time to end America’s longest war,” US President Joe Biden announced, saying that the US will withdraw all troops by September 11, 2021, instead of May 1. As per the latest plan, the remaining 3,500 troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn regardless of whether progress is made in intra-Afghan peace talks or the Taliban reduces its attacks on Afghan security forces and citizens. While US pledged to assist Afghan security forces and support the peace process, the Taliban denied to participate in any conference on Afghanistan’s future until all foreign troops leave.

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