U.s. Taliban Agreement

Groups like the Islamic State of Chorasan could oppose the negotiations and try to attract disgruntled Taliban. The insurgency is not a homogeneous organization. These include other insurgent groups, drug trafficking organizations, tribes and militias, some of whom may strongly oppose a peace agreement. Even successful peace agreements have been threatened by spoilers who refuse to participate and feel more engaged in violence to achieve their goals, such as the Real Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland and the National Liberation Army in Colombia. Both carried out attacks before, during and after the peace accords. U.S. Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said the two sides had agreed on a “tripartite agreement that codifies the rules and procedures of their negotiations on a political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire.” It is not entirely clear how the two sides have resolved their procedural differences, but two Afghan officials familiar with the talks said Wednesday`s agreement was reached without the official name or the mention of the “Islamic Emirate” in the documents. The United States has reached an agreement with the Taliban, but considerable challenges remain, such as political power-sharing, the role of Islam and women`s rights in achieving intra-Afghan peace. One way to do this would be to prevent negotiating teams from agreeing on issues such as political power-sharing agreements (including national, provincial or regional), the Afghan constitution, the role of religion, women`s rights, persistent violence, the return of prisoners and upcoming elections. The February 2020 agreement between the United States and the Taliban did not address these issues in a serious way and potentially poses enormous challenges.

The Taliban`s intransigence has contributed to the rise in violence. According to the U.S. Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the Taliban stepped up their attacks on Afghan forces following the February 2020 agreement. UN data showed similar trends. Taliban attacks in April 2020 increased by 25 percent from April 2019, with violence in 20 of the country`s 34 provinces. The annexes to the agreement between the United States and the Taliban, which has never been published, should limit the fighting. According to a well-placed source, the Taliban were allowed to continue their operations in rural areas, but not in major cities. The Afghan government could break down and trigger the end of negotiations. In February 2020, the Independent Electoral Commission announced that the incumbent President, Ashraf Ghani, had won 50.6 per cent of the vote in the September 2019 elections, making him the head of government Abdullah Abdullah, who had won 39.5 per cent of the vote. But Abdullah and his supporters denied the results, claiming widespread fraud and forming a parallel government. In May 2020, the two sides agreed. Ghani gave Abdullah the leadership role in the peace process and the right to appoint half of the cabinet.

But the political situation remains tense and negotiations could fail if Abdullah – who now heads the High Council for National Reconciliation – leaves the government.