International Relations Multilateral Prelims cum Mains

Talks with Taliban focus on four key issues to end Afghan war: US

Why in news?

  • Recently, the US has stated that the ongoing negotiations with the Taliban are focused on four interconnected issues that will be key for any future agreement to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

 

Background

  • After the 9/11 attacks, US made a request to the Taliban leadership to hand over Osama bin Laden who was the prime suspect of the bombing.
  • The Taliban refused to hand over Osama bin Laden to the US government demanding enough evidence of his participation in the attacks.
  • The US with its NATO allies, launched the invasion in Afghanistan with code-name Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001.
  • The U.S. and its allies rapidly drove the Taliban from power, and built military bases near major cities across the country.
  • The Taliban has launched numerous attacks on the Afghan forces, government facilities and any organization that they believe are in alliance with the US.
  • The US has been on the ground and directly involved in the 17-year old war that analysts have described as stalemate.

 

U.S- Taliban Talks : A backgrounder

  • Ending the 17-year long conflict has been considered too costly. Thus the decision to talk to the Taliban was taken during the Obama presidency.
  • The Doha office (in Qatar) of the Taliban was established for negotiations.
  • The Taliban have long maintained that they would negotiate only with the US not with the Afghan government. However, the US has insisted that the Afghan government should be involved in the process.
  • Thus, several attempts at holding discussions to end the war not progressed.
  • By the middle of 2018, the US started pushing for direct talks with the Taliban urgently (in line with President Trump’s agenda to withdraw troops from Afghanistan).
  • The U.S and the Taliban have held several rounds of talks since 2018 with the objective is to narrow the gap between opposing positions and hold broader, more formal negotiations to end the war.
  • In January 2019, the US and Taliban agreed on a “framework” for a peace agreement. As per the draft preliminary framework:
    • Taliban agreed on committing to not allow terrorists to use Afghan territory to carry out attacks on the US and its allies.
    • US agreed to pull out troops from Afghanistan on condition of direct talks between Taliban and Afghan Government as well as a ceasefire.

 

News Summary

  • The ongoing discussions began in February, between a high-powered American delegation with a high-level Taliban team in Doha.
  • The objective of the talks is to finalise a draft agreement on a potential foreign troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and to end the 17-year war in the country.
  • The discussions are focusing on are the four interconnected issues:
    • Counterterrorism
    • Troop withdrawal
    • Intra-Afghan dialogue
    • Ceasefire

 

Why these talks are worrying for India?

  • The Taliban control nearly half of Afghanistan, and are able to carry out attacks almost at will.
  • US talks with Taliban, legitimises their role in Afghanistan’s present and future.
  • A Taliban government in Afghanistan in the near future will mean a hugely increased leverage for Pakistan in Afganistan.

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