Peace with the Taliban?

US troops could be leaving Afghanistan for good

BBC

Taliban bomb Kabul amid peace talk 'progress'

A huge bomb outside a police station in the Afghan capital Kabul has killed at least 14 people and injured nearly 150.

The explosion sent a large plume of black smoke into the sky and left nearby buildings in ruins. Most of those wounded were civilians.

The Taliban say they carried out the attack.

It comes amid peace talks between the Taliban and the US, which aim to bring a nearly 18-year conflict to an end. Both sides say they have made progress.

Afghanistan's interior ministry said a car bomb was used in the attack, but the Taliban said they had detonated a truck bomb, which is much larger.

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Perspecs

Could there be peace between the US and the Taliban?

By Joe Harker

The US and the Taliban could reach a peace deal that saw American troops leave Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban no longer helping Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

US troops returning home and the guarantee that Afghanistan won't be used for terrorist attacks seems almost too good to be true and without a deal agreed it's hard to believe until anything is confirmed.

Could there really be peace, or is it an unrealistic prospect?

The Claim:

The Economist reports that both parties are inching towards a peace deal, with a desire to see an agreement reached by September 1.

The Taliban wants US troops out of Afghanistan, the proposed peace deal covers that. The US wants Afghanistan to stop being used as a base for terror attacks against them, the proposed peace deal covers that.

A peace deal between the Taliban and the US would be expected to pave the way towards a further peace deal and a power sharing arrangement between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

If a cease fire can be secured and a guarantee that the Taliban will negotiate with the Afghan government then it could be the path to a lasting peace, or at least an uneasy peace sharing deal and a cessation of hostilities.

The ideal scenario is a pragmatic, practical peace deal. Critics and sceptics fear any agreement would be closer to a "peace for our time" situation that falls back into conflict and mistrust.

The Counter Claim:

However, it is difficult to sign a peace deal and expect it to stick when violence continues.

A Taliban bomb outside a police station in the Afghan capital of Kabul killed at least 14 people and injured 145, it's hard to shake hands and make peace when bombs are still going off.

Roya Rahmani, Afghanistan's ambassador to the US, said the regular terrorist attacks were threatening chances of securing a peace deal. She asked why the Taliban were still killing people if they felt they were close to achieving peace.

Peace deals are underpinned by trust and it's hard to trust the Taliban when they're still setting off car bombs.

Such a peace deal is extremely precarious and very vulnerable to falling apart. The simple fact of the matter is tensions are so high and so many people have been killed that peace doesn't mean harmony. It will be difficult to achieve and fragile once built.

The Facts:

There are around 14,000 US troops currently deployed in Afghanistan, with a further 8,500 soldiers from European countries. The peace deal would likely see between 5,000 and 6,000 US troops leave, with the rest departing over the next two years as part of a gradual withdrawal.

The Taliban controls about half of Afghanistan, though the government still controls the main cities. They consider the Afghan government to be an illegitimate puppet of the US.

The war in Afghanistan has been going on since 2001 and over 111,000 Afghani people have been killed in the conflict, of which at least 31,000 are civilian deaths. Other reports suggest up to 360,000 more people have died as an indirect result of the war.

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The Economist

America and the Taliban inch towards a peace deal in Afghanistan

AS HE LEFT the Qatari capital of Doha on August 5th, Zalmay Khalilzad, America's envoy for Afghan peace talks, did not quite say that a deal with the Taliban was a matter of crossing the "i"s and dotting the "t"s, but he came close. He declared that the two sides had made "excellent progress" towards an agreement that would allow America to bring its troops home. What was left, he said, were "technical details" and "steps and mechanisms" for implementing it. But the devil may be in those details.

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