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Afghan Muslims at the start of the Eid al-Fitr holiday outside the Shah-e Do Shamshira mosque in Kabul, during the first ceasefire with the Taliban since the 2001 U.S. invasion. Photo: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images

For several days in Afghanistan, civilians, troops and Taliban fighters happily mingled together, exchanging hugs and sweets during the Eid holiday. But now an all-too-brief Taliban ceasefire has ended, despite Kabul's request that it be extended.

What's next: The insurgents are headed back to the battlefield. This is no surprise: As long the Taliban believes it's winning the war — and it very much does — it won't stop fighting. And especially not on the Afghan government's terms.

It's easy to dismiss the Taliban's return to the battlefield as one more failed attempt to achieve peace. But in fact, the temporary truce has several silver linings for a nation badly in need of optimism:

  1. The fact that the Taliban stopped fighting for the first time, even if only for a few days, represents a major new building block.
  2. The ceasefire has strengthened a national consensus for peace. As their beaming faces in photos that went viral made clear, Afghan civilians, and, most surprisingly, Taliban foot soldiers, genuinely enjoyed their brief time together in peace.
  3. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will now have more political space and public support to push forward on reconciliation. And Taliban leaders now face the uncomfortable prospect of their rank and file growing increasingly uncomfortable about fighting.

The bottom line: Peace isn't about to break out across Afghanistan, but the country got a tantalizing taste of it over the last few days. That experience should help strengthen the country's pursuit of a reconciliation that now seems a bit more achievable, even if far down the road.

Michael Kugelman is deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center.

Go deeper

FAA clears more planes after 5G fears

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday it had approved nearly 80% of the U.S. commercial fleet to perform low-visibility landings at airports with new 5G services after fears of signal interference limited 5G rollout.

Why it matters: The FAA approvals will help provide more certainty after the agency raised fears that 5G signals could reduce the accuracy of certain equipment, known as radio altimeters, that helps planes land and take off in inclement weather.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton stock tanks on report of production halt

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Peloton stock fell by as much as 25% on Thursday, following a CNBC report that the connected fitness company will temporarily halt production on its bikes and treadmills.

Why it matters: Peloton is viewed by many as a proxy for consumer behavior in the pandemic era, as its popularity surged when gyms closed and people wanted to exercise at home.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker

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