Source: THE economist
Peace processes can be surprisingly violent. On September 2nd Zalmay Khalilzad, America’s envoy to Afghanistan’s “reconciliation”, as the State Department calls it, gave tolonews, an Afghan news service, details of a draft agreement hammered out after nine rounds of negotiation with the Taliban. As the interview was being broadcast late into the evening, a truck-bomb exploded in Kabul, killing at least 30 people, the third attack in the country in three days claimed by the Taliban. These came just weeks after a massive suicide-bombing by Islamic State killed at least 80 people in the Afghan capital, and days after a Taliban assault on two northern cities. For many Afghans, this looks less like impending reconciliation and more like an ominous taste of things to come.
Mr. Khalilzad’s announcement was largely as expected. Subject to the deal’s approval by President Donald Trump, America would withdraw 5,400 of its 14,000 troops in Afghanistan (the fate of another 8,500 foreign troops, mostly European, is uncertain) from five bases within five months of the deal being signed. America is insisting that the withdrawal is based on conditions on the ground, and that it could “stop the clock” on the pullout. Precisely what those conditions are is uncertain.