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Will there be an Afghanistan peace deal?

According to senior European and Afghan officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is refusing to sign the suggested Peace Plan between U.S and Afghanistan. After 18 years of boots on ground, this is the first time US and Taliban have been so close to an ‘understanding’.
However, there are many loopholes that in a rush to finalize an agreement, both parties have ignored. It took nine rounds of intensive negotiations spread over 10 months to reach this point. If Trump agrees with the draft agreement roughly 5,400 armed men from the five bases will be withdrawn in the next 135 days.
But, if the peace plan goes through-will it ensure peace in Afghanistan? Khalilzad, wants Taliban to guarantee that Afghan soil will not be used for military attacks abroad. Can the Taliban deliver on this promise even if it wants to? Will the Taliban be willing to break its ties with Al-Qaeda? It’s not only about Al-Qaida, the group Taliban supported in 2001. Many others emerged as an outcome of Sino-Soviet war like Haqqani Network. The Islamic Jihad Union and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan both have their strong footprints in Afghanistan. ISIS, a splinter group from al Qaeda gained strength in 2013. ISIS has expanded gaining roots in Central Asia and Afghanistan. ISIS has morphed into a strong militant group boasting sophisticated military expertise and high rate of success of targeting civilians.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Taliban have been very close. In 2010, when Taliban set up a shadow government in Afghanistan’s northern province, members of IMU were part of this cabinet. Usman Ghazi, leading IMU decided to support ISIS in 2015, creating anger in the Taliban thereby loyalties of IMU members split between Taliban and ISIS, weakening IMU.
The Haqqani Network has a strong organizational structure but remains a sister concern of Afghan Taliban. Officially founded by by Jalaluddin Haqqani in 1994 it merged with Taliban in 1996. Haqqani network objective is to establish Islamic State in Afghanistan and Pakistan by creating a Caliphate based on Laws of Islam. It is pertinent to note CIA supported Haqqani network providing them not only with cash but also with weapons during their fight against Soviets in Afghanistan. The group has been responsible for many high profile attacks including the 2008 and 2009 suicide bombings of the Indian Embassy in Kabul and in 2011 and attack on Kabul Intercontinental Hotel.
The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) involves many terrorists outfits/extremists based on rebels who are Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Kazakh radicals having links with IMU. The question that arises is, can Taliban offer a guarantee for these and many other motley outfits?
Further Ghani’s government was put out in the cold during the ‘peace talks’ as the Taliban refused to accept them as an independent entity and labelling them as a puppet government. Their future hangs precariously in balance upon the positive outcome of this deal. What will be the fate of the other organizations with an exclusive ‘agreement’ between U.S and Taliban?
The ‘deal’ does not involve a date of ceasefire from these entities. The loophole was glaringly obvious when 16 people were killed owing to a Taliban attack on the facilities of housing used by international organization at a time when Khalilzad’s interview on peace talks was being broadcast. “The agreement would not end the fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces, but would allow the start of “intra-Afghan” peace talks, expected to be held in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.” (The Guardian, September 1st, 2019)
The exclusionary nature of the ongoing talks, is the proverbial fig leaf for the promise by Taliban to deliver on their end of the bargain. The only consistent element of the talks has been ignoring stakeholders not on board to achieve a solution.
In light of Secretary of State Pompeo refusing to ink his signature on the document, “there are two alternatives. Khalilzad himself may sign it. Or the U.S. and the Taliban may simply issue a joint statement, supported in turn by the U.S.-backed government in Kabul and a number of other countries, including Japan, Russia and China, two Afghan sources familiar with the deliberations tell TIME.”



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