Taliban reaches agreement with US on al Qaeda, Islamic State
While the U.S. and the Taliban remain at odds on many key negotiating points, they have reached agreement on one: that al Qaeda and the Islamic State must be kept out of the country. The Taliban refuses to negotiate with the Afghani government they perceive to be usurpers, but they have restarted talks with the U.S. special envoy in Qatar. These talks had been cancelled after the special envoy sought to bring the Taliban to the table with representatives from the Afghani government. Perhaps the largest point of contention in negotiations remains American troop presence in the country, largely there with the mission of training the struggling Afghani army. While President Trump announced the drawdown of troops in the country by half, this has been backtracked and the future of U.S. troop size in the country remains largely unknown. The situation on the ground reflects some of the stalemates at the negotiating table: the Afghan government controls most of the country’s population centers and all of the provincial capitals, while the Taliban controls large swaths of the rural countryside, from which it launches regular and deadly attacks against government forces and government-controlled areas.