US, Afghan and Taliban representatives expected to sign peace deal on Saturday

US, Afghan and Taliban representatives will today sign a peace deal. The agreement will pave the way for the staged

us afghan peace deal

Photo: Watan Yar/EPA-EFE

US, Afghan and Taliban representatives will today sign a peace deal. The agreement will pave the way for the staged withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan over the next several years, beginning with the exit of about 4,000 of the 13,000 soldiers currently stationed within 135 days.

Today’s signing hinged on the successful completion of the week-long “reduction in violence” agreement, which ended on Friday after “only a handful” of attacks.

The deal will purportedly set the stage for negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government to determine how the country will be governed. However, many experts argue that the long-standing conflict is unlikely to end soon—especially given the internal divisions within the Afghan administration. The controversy surrounding the recent re-election of President Ashraf Ghani, whose competitor also claimed victory and threatened to create a parallel government, may significantly weaken national unity during negotiations, potentially giving the Taliban the upper hand.

The Taliban also controls a significant portion of the country and has little incentive to concede control to a divided opponent. If the Taliban emerge from negotiations with a stranglehold over the country, the US may resort to sanctions as a tool to coerce the formation of a jointly controlled government.

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