US, Taliban Aim to Firm Up Date for Foreign Force Exit from Afghanistan

Latest round of Doha talks center on timetable

While US officials spent much of last week insisting that they are not seeking a “withdrawal agreement” in Afghanistan, a new round of talks is set to star with the Taliban in Doha, and those talks are explicitly centered around firming up the exact date for US and other foreign forces to be out of the country.

This has been what several rounds of Doha talks have been leading up to, a peace deal in Afghanistan which will start with an agreement for the US to leave, and the Taliban to keep foreign terror groups out of Afghanistan. This has been known for months, which makes it puzzling how US officials are trying to downplay the pullout aspect. 

Pentagon officials insist nothing is final in Afghanistan until everything is final, but all indications are that this is the direction that the agreement has been shaping up for a long time.

Taliban officials emphasized the importance of getting those first two aspects of the deal signed off on, saying that once those are in process, then work on a ceasefire and talks with the Afghan government could also progress.

US officials have at times suggested all the deals need to be made at once, but getting the Afghan government into talks has been tricky, and that’s probably going to take longer than anything else, with many Afghan leaders reluctant to start negotiating with the Taliban.

If anything, putting a date on the US pullout would definitely bolster progress on the other details. Afghan officials would have a lot more reason to make a deal quickly, before the US leaves.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.