New US-Taliban Talks Are ‘Critical,’ Focused on a Deal for US to Leave Afghanistan

Taliban want pullout added to 'agreed upon' parts of draft

The latest round of US-Taliban talks in Qatar are being described as “critical” by the Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, and the hope is that the week-long discussion will end with a formal rewrite of the draft deal to reflect the progress made.

The rewrite is being pushed hard by the Taliban, as they want to see two aspects of the four-part deal, the US pullout from Afghanistan and the Taliban pledge to keep al-Qaeda and ISIS out of the country, moved into the agreed upon section of the draft.

These two aspects of the deal have been all but agreed to for months, by most indications, and the expectation is that once moved into the agreed upon section, the talks would transition to the other aspects of the final deal, agreeing on a nationwide ceasefire and starting a proper negotiation between the Taliban and the US-backed Afghan government.

Those familiar say there has been “ample progress” on the US pullout, and while there is as yet no finalized deal on anything, it is possible that a limited deal could be reached by September 1 including the troop pullout aspect of the deal.

Initially, there were hopes of having a final deal in place by September 1, though it appears that there are too many more parts of the deal to finalize to have a realistic shot at reaching this date. The deal timing is seen as important because the Afghan presidential election is scheduled for September 28.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.