U.S. and Taliban begin negotiations for peace

Sean Richer – Anchor Staff

After 17 years, America’s longest overseas conflict may be showing signs of an end, as American and Taliban envoys met in Doha, Qatar last week. The negotiations are being led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. diplomat to Afghanistan. After four days of communication, a draft for the framework to peace has been established.

The Taliban is a radical Islamic extremist group who have been accused of brutal human rights violations by numerous human rights groups and journalists. These include using child soldiers, committing suicide bombings, and the repression of women.

Within this framework, American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan. In exchange, The Taliban would agree to not allow other militant groups like Al Qaeda and ISIL from using the country as a staging ground. However, exact specifications as to how many troops or supplies would be withdrawn, or if support for the current Afghan government would be withdrawn, remain unclear. Along with these prospective conditions, the framework also includes an exchange of POW’s (Prisoners of war), as well as a ceasefire between American and Taliban forces. Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen, an Afghani political analyst said, “The discussions have been focused on two issues…the withdrawal of the troops and that the soil of Afghanistan will not be used against anyone.” Currently, the negotiations have been held exclusively between the Taliban and the United States.  While the current Afghan government has not been included within this framework, officials said that all final terms must be concluded between the current regime and the Taliban. However, the Taliban insurgents have since rejected this idea, since President Ashraf Ghani’s administration has not been recognized by the militia.

The deal is not without its critics, however. Many consider the act of negotiating with the Taliban un-American, and many believe that leaving the country so rapidly, is a betrayal of the Afghan Central government and surrender for the United States. Ryan Crocker, a former ambassador to Afghanistan and opinion contributor for the Washington Post wrote, “This current process bears an unfortunate resemblance to the Paris peace talks during the Vietnam War.”     

Many also believe Pakistan has the right to participate as well, as the Taliban have been operating there for years as well. However, no concrete agreement has been reached, and there are still many variables to be addressed between the negotiators.