Recent peace talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban had been making
encouraging progress. The process now looks at risk of collapse, with
the Taliban threatening to pull out of the talks if the US doesn’t stop trying to deflect the issue of withdrawing foreign troops from Afghanistan.
While US negotiator Zelmay Khalilzad presented this as a mere “agenda disagreement,” it appears to be far more than that, and actually stems from the US apparently backing away from the idea of withdrawing from Afghanistan at all.
The Taliban has long made a US pullout the primary demand for any deal ending the war, and the progress led to the suggestion that the US was finally willing to at least consider that as part of a deal to end the 17+ year war. Instead, US officials are now seeking to totally change the terms, and get concessions for keeping “long-term military bases” inside Afghanistan.
US officials are arguing that they need the bases to ensure that the Taliban can’t use Afghanistan to stage attacks on other nations. Presenting this demand after reports they were going to let the Taliban into a new “interim government” and cancel elections for the existing Afghan government, however, gives the appearance that this is suddenly a puzzling bid for permanent US occupation, years after the war was already effectively lost.
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