Afghanistan

Expert Voices

U.S.–Taliban talks a needed first step toward peace in Afghanistan

Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Reports of a tentative understanding between U.S. and Taliban negotiators in Qatar last week sparked strong, disparate reactions. Some say the U.S. is negotiating its surrender in Afghanistan and selling out its Afghan allies, while others see the first steps toward ending the world’s deadliest conflict.

Reality check: To stop the fighting, the U.S. and the Taliban must hold formal talks; to bring stable peace to Afghanistan, the Taliban and Afghan power-players opposing them must do so as well. That the former has happened first doesn’t inherently constitute a betrayal.

Senate Republicans defy Trump in vote opposing troop withdrawal

McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Senate voted 68-23 Thursday to advance a measure opposing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan — an amendment added to a broader Middle East policy bill expected to easily pass the Senate next week.

Why it matters: In a rare show of defiance against Trump, a majority of Republican senators supported the measure, which undercuts the president's justification for withdrawing troops from Syria and possibly Afghanistan by declaring that the Islamic State, or ISIS, remains a serious threat in both countries. The vote comes more than a month after 56 senators approved a resolution to pull U.S. support from the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen — another strong show of bipartisan opposition against Trump's isolationist foreign policy.

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