In Afghanistan, a deal but no peace
Today offered an immediate reminder that while a deal was struck Saturday for the U.S. to begin to leave Afghanistan, peace remains elusive.
Driving the news: The Taliban said it had resumed offensive operations against Afghan forces following a "reduction in violence" during negotiations.
- Three civilians were killed and 11 wounded by a bomb blast in Khost. The Taliban denied responsibility.
- Gen. Mark Milley acknowledged in a press briefing that "an absolute cessation of violence in Afghanistan ... is probably not going to happen."
- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he would not abide by a deal to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners, saying the U.S. was "only a facilitator" and couldn't dictate such steps.
What they're saying:
"This is going to be a long, windy, bumpy road. That’s going to be the nature of this over the next days, weeks and months. ... We’re just going to deal with each situation as it arises and make sure we stay focused on the mission.”— Defense Secretary Mark Esper
The big picture: America has wanted out of Afghanistan for at least a decade. The deal signed in Doha could accomplish that.
- It calls for some 4,000 U.S. troops to pull out "within months" and for a complete exit within 14 months.
- The Taliban has declared it a victory.
The big picture: Since the American invasion in the wake of 9/11, 3,500 U.S. and allied troops have been killed, tens of thousands of Afghans have lost their lives, and the U.S. has spent $2 trillion.
- Polls suggest most Americans tend to consider the war a failure.
- It's unclear what will happen to the protections the U.S. has helped guarantee for minorities and women, including access to education.