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US and Taliban reach agreement ‘in principle’ on Afghanistan, envoy says

The United States and the Taliban have come to an agreement “in principle,” according to US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad. US President Donald Trump will still need to approve the accord, under which the US would withdraw 5,400 of the almost 14,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. The pull out would be completed within 135 days if the Taliban holds up its part of the deal. The agreement would put an end to the war of 18 years and could pave the way for additional troop withdrawals in the future.

While the agreement implies that peace is within reach for Afghanistan, it is unclear what exactly this will mean for the country. Over the last few days, violence has surged with the Taliban carrying out a number of attacks, including a bomb attack targeting an Afghan police station in Kabul.

The potential US-Taliban peace agreement also casts doubt over the Afghan presidential election scheduled for September 28. Many people in Afghanistan believe the vote will be canceled because the US government does not want it to take place out of fear that it may threaten its agreement with the Taliban. Taliban leaders have warned with attacks on election day if the vote isn’t cancelled, yet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has insisted that the polling stations will open as planned.

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