Mar 3, 2020 - World

In Afghanistan, a deal but no peace

Taliban fighters celebrate the deal. Photo: Wali Sabawoon/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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.

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U.S. troops begin withdrawing from Afghanistan

Afghani President Ashraf Ghani. Photo: Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan on Tuesday under the peace agreement signed by the U.S. and Taliban last month, reports the AP.

The state of play: The move comes amid ongoing political tensions in Afghanistan as Kabul hosted two presidential inaugurations on Monday, with both incumbent Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah continuing to insist that they won the last election.

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International Criminal Court allows Afghanistan war crimes investigation

The International Criminal Court in The Hague. Photo: Martijn Beekman/AFP via Getty Images

International Criminal Court judges ruled on Thursday that prosecutors can open investigations into allegations of war crimes committed by the Taliban, Afghan forces and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the AP reports.

Why it matters: It's the first time that ICC judges have allowed prosecutors to investigate U.S. forces, but Washington does not recognize the court's jurisdiction and may refuse to cooperate.

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