Representatives of the United States and the Taliban are expected to meet in Doha today, where the two sides will discuss a withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
Their last meeting on January 26 saw both sides agree “in principle” for the withdrawal of US troops on the proviso that the country would not be used as a base for future terrorist attacks on the US or its allies.
A key issue left unresolved from January is whether the Taliban is able to work with the democratically-elected government of President Ashraf Ghani—a major US demand. The Taliban views Kabul as Washington’s illegitimate puppet government. As such, Taliban attacks on Afghan security forces are ongoing.
It remains highly unlikely that the Taliban will agree to accept democracy in Afghanistan’s post-US future at this stage. This position could become more entrenched in the months to come as Ghani, seeking re-election in July, faces competition from strongly anti-Taliban candidates, which will likely harden his own anti-Taliban resolve as well.
The Taliban-Kabul dispute is a major risk to the final success of the talks. US President Donald Trump is desperate to extricate himself from the 17-year Afghan war but his resolve will be tested by bipartisan congressional flak if it means the Taliban take over the country.
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John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.