U.S. and Taliban sign historic peace deal

Andrew Lemon, Contributing Writer

DOHA, OMAN— Following more than 18 years of conflict, representatives from the United States, including U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the Taliban have come to the negotiating table in the Qatari capital of Doha, and signed a deal that could at last bring an end to the conflict.

A 14 month timetable has been put into place for the gradual removal of all 12,000 American soldiers in the country, granted that the Taliban holds true to their end of the bargain to engage in further peace talks with the Afghan government, as well as violent terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, no longer being permitted to use their territory for operations such as the training of operatives and production of explosives. The deal is being met with optimism by both sides, as well as by the civilians of the war-torn country, relieved to have the prospects of peace on the horizon at long last.

The U.S. presence in Afghanistan began in 2001, with a series of retaliatory aerial raids being carried out less than a month after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. At the time, Afghanistan was ruled by the Taliban regime, whose military sites were being used to train terrorist operatives from the group al-Qaeda, headed by the now-deceased Osama Bin-Laden. Such sites were among the first to be targeted by American air-strikes. The Taliban responded with asymmetric guerilla warfare tactics such as the utilization of suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Following a few months of fighting, the Taliban regime crumbled, with a large part of their organization retreating into neighboring Pakistan. The retreat did not spell the end of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but the guerilla warfare persisted. Attacks reached a peak in 2014, with NATO international forces subsequently pulling out of the country later that year, leaving the Afghani military to deal with the Taliban alone.

Since the withdrawal of NATO’s forces, the Taliban has been able to reclaim territory within Afghanistan, as well regaining the ability to operate freely. The newly signed deal will offer the war-weary region a pathway to peace that will provide a much needed respite from years of violence.