A draft peace deal has been put in place to end the 17-year conflict between Afghanistan and the US. Washington’s chief negotiator has said that a draft framework has been agreed by the Taliban.
US negotiators met with the Taliban in Qatar last week, but the latter are yet to speak with Afghan officials directly, and have dismissed them as “puppets”.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, spoke in Kabul saying that a draft framework is in place, but needs to be “fleshed out”. He also said that as part of the proposed deal, the Taliban have committed to preventing Afghanistan being used as a base for terror groups.
The US want a full withdrawal of their troops from the country, but are demanding a ceasefire and promises by the Taliban to speak directly with the Afghan government.
However, the Taliban have said that they will only speak to Afghan officials once a date for the withdrawal of US troops has been announced. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a fresh plea to the Taliban to talk directly to his government on Monday.
“We are committed to ensuring peace. But there are values which are non-negotiable, for example national unity, national sovereignty, territorial integrity a powerful and competent central government and basic rights of the citizens of the country.”
Speaking to the New York Times, Khalilzad said that the Taliban would not give terror groups such as al-Qaeda a safe haven in the country should the US pull out. This promise has ‘satisfied’ the US government.
Speaking to the BBC, a senior Taliban official said that both sides have agreed to form two committees to draw up detailed plans on how to implement agreements, but these rest on two key issues:
- When will US troops be withdrawn totally from Afghanistan?
- A commitment from the Taliban that the group will not allow international jihadist groups like al-Qaeda to use the country as a base in the future.
The Taliban official said that they have suggested that the US begin the extraction of forces within six months, but are flexible.
President Ghani has said that since he came to power in 2014, over 45,000 members of the country’s security forces have been killed. Since foreign combat troops left the country in 2014, the Taliban have gained more power and reach.
It is estimated that about 15 million people – half the Afghan population – are living in areas either controlled by the Taliban or where the militants are openly present and regularly mount attacks.
However, civilian deaths and injury rates are dropping since 2016, which was a seven year high of just over 11,000.