U.S. To Withdraw From Afghanistan After Signing Peace Deal With Taliban

U.S. To Withdraw From Afghanistan After Signing Peace Deal With Taliban

DOHA, Qatar (AP)– The United States signed a peace agreement with Taliban militants on Saturday aimed at bringing an end to 18 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan that started after 9/11 and allowing U.S. soldiers to return house from America’s longest war.

This historical offer, signed by chief arbitrators from the two sides and witnessed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Qatari capital of Doha, might see the withdrawal of all American and allied forces in the next 14 months and allow President Donald Trump to fulfill an essential project promise to draw out the U.S. from “endless wars.” It sets the stage for intra-Afghan peace talks to start by March 10 throughout which a permanent ceasefire will be worked out and the Taliban agree to consult with all factions.

Under the contract, the U.S. would draw its forces down to 8,600 from 13,000 in the next 3-4 months, with the staying U.S. forces withdrawing in 14 months. The total pullout would depend on the Taliban satisfying their commitments to prevent terrorism, including specific commitments to renounce al-Qaida and avoid that group and others from utilizing Afghan soil to plot attacks on the U.S. or its allies. The offer does not, nevertheless, connect the U.S. withdrawal to any specific result from the all Afghan talks, according to U.S. authorities.

” We will closely view the Taliban’s compliance with their commitments, and calibrate the rate of our withdrawal to their actions. This is how we will make sure that Afghanistan never once again functions as a base for international terrorists,” stated Pompeo. He acknowledged that the road ahead would be hard but said the deal represented “the very best opportunity for peace in a generation.”

President George W. Bush ordered the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

At a parallel ceremony in Kabul, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signed a joint statement dedicating the Afghan federal government to support the U.S.-Taliban offer, which is seen skeptically by numerous war-weary Afghans, especially ladies who fear a comeback of repression under the ultra-conservative Taliban.

President George W. Bush ordered the U.S.-led intrusion of Afghanistan in action to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Some U.S. troops currently serving there had actually not yet been born when al-Qaida hijackers flew two airliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, crashed another into the Pentagon and removed a 4th in western Pennsylvania, eliminating nearly 3,000 individuals.

It only took a few months to fall the Taliban and send Osama bin Laden and top al-Qaida militants scrambling across the border into Pakistan, however the war dragged out for several years as the U.S. tried develop a stable, working state in among the least industrialized nations on the planet. The Taliban regrouped, and currently hold sway over half the country.

The U.S. invested more than $750 billion, and on all sides the war cost 10s of thousands of lives lost, permanently scarred and indelibly interrupted. The dispute was likewise often ignored by U.S. politicians and the American public as the memory of the attacks on that crisp, warm early morning faded regardless of having actually changed how lots of Americans see the world.

Under the peace deal, the U.S. would draw its forces down to 8,600 from 13,000 in the next 3-4 months, with the remaining U.S

While Pompeo went to the event in Qatar, where the Taliban have a political office, he did not sign the contract and appeared to avoid any direct contact with the Taliban delegation. Instead, the offer was signed by U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, after which they shook hands and members of the Taliban screamed “Allahu Akhbar” or “God is biggest.” Others in participation, consisting of the Qatari hosts, applauded pleasantly.

” We are dedicated to implementing this contract,” Baradar said in quick remarks. “I get in touch with all Afghans to honestly work for peace and gather around the table for peace negotiations.” He added that hoped the withdrawal of all foreign soldiers from Afghanistan would permit all Afghans to “have a serene life under Islamic law.”

Addressing press reporters after the finalizing event, Pompeo stated he was still moved by the Sept. 11 attacks and proud of what the U.S. had achieved in Afghanistan although he worried that the U.S. must be realistic about its choices.

” I am simply as angry over 9/11 as I was the day I viewed al-Qaida tear down the Twin Towers on TELEVISION,” Pompeo said before attending to U.S. veterans of Afghanistan and troops currently serving there. “We will not squander what they and you have actually won through blood sweat and tears,” he said.

Almost 2,400 U.S. service members have died since the start of the conflict in Afghanistan.

On The Other Hand in Kabul, in a rare show of unity, Ghani sat beside his political competing Abdullah at a ceremony with Esper and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that included a statement between the Afghan federal government and the United States intended to reveal U.S. support for Afghanistan as Washington signed the deal with the Taliban.

The statement mirrored the Doha file in numerous methods, setting out the information of the U.S. arrangement with the Taliban however conditional on its pledge to fight terrorism. For Afghanistan’s government which has been deeply criticized by its political challengers, consisting of Abdullah, the real job ahead will be cobbling together a negotiating group to sit across from the Taliban in intra-Afghan settlements to choose the future face of a post-war Afghanistan.

Those negotiations, to be held in Oslo, Norway, are anticipated to begin by March 10.

Esper warned the road ahead was a long one and would not be without its challenges.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, met with Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani before a pea

Lots of Taliban members had earlier held a small victory march in Qatar in which they waved the militant group’s white flags, according to a video shared on Taliban sites. “Today is the day of triumph, which has actually featured the aid of Allah,” stated Abbas Stanikzai, among the Taliban’s lead arbitrators, who joined the march.

Trump has actually consistently guaranteed to get the U.S. out of its “unlimited wars” in the Middle East, and the withdrawal of troops could supply a boost as he looks for re-election in a nation weary of involvement in remote disputes.

He has actually approached the Taliban agreement meticulously, avoiding the crowing surrounding other major foreign policy actions, such as his talks with North Korea.

Last September, on brief notice, he cancelled what was to be a finalizing ceremony with the Taliban at Camp David after a series of brand-new Taliban attacks. He has because been supportive of the talks led by his special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad.

Under the agreement, the Taliban guarantee not to let extremists use the country as a staging ground for assaulting the U.S. or its allies. U.S. authorities are loath to rely on the Taliban to meet their obligations.

The potential customers for Afghanistan’s future are unpredictable.

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group's top political leader signed a pe

U.S. officials state the eventual withdrawal of all American and allied soldiers from Afghanistan is not subject to any particular outcome in talks amongst the Taliban and other Afghan factions about the country’s future. The authorities spoke on condition of privacy since they were not authorized to speak openly about the contract.

It’s unclear what will end up being of gains made in women’s rights because the toppling of the Taliban, which had actually repressed females and girls under a strict brand of Sharia law. Women’s rights in Afghanistan had been a top concern of both the Bush and Obama administration, however it remains a deeply conservative country, with ladies still struggling for standard rights.

There are presently more than 16,500 soldiers serving under the NATO banner, of which 8,000 are American. Germany has the next largest contingent, with 1,300 soldiers, followed by Britain with 1,100

In all, 38 NATO nations are contributing forces to Afghanistan. The alliance formally concluded its fight mission in 2014 and now provides training and support to Afghan forces.

” The road to peace will be long and hard and there will be obstacles, and there is a danger constantly for spoilers,” Stoltenberg stated on Saturday. “But the thing is, we are committed, the Afghan people are committed to peace, and we will continue to supply support.”

The U.S. has a separate contingent of 5,000 soldiers deployed to perform counter-terrorism objectives and provide air and ground assistance to Afghan forces when requested.

Considering that the start of negotiations with the Taliban, the U.S. has actually stepped up its air attacks on the Taliban in addition to a regional Islamic State affiliate. Last year the U.S. flying force dropped more bombs on Afghanistan than in any year considering that 2013.

Seven days back, the Taliban started a seven-day “decrease of violence” period, a requirement to the peace deal signing.

” The road to peace will be long and hard and there will be obstacles, and there is a threat constantly for spoilers,” Stoltenberg said. “But the important things is, we are devoted, the Afghan individuals are dedicated to peace, and we will continue to supply assistance.”

___

Gannon reported from Kabul, Afghanistan. Associated Press authors Rahim Faiez and Tameem Akhgar in Kabul, Lorne Cook in Brussels and Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem contributed.

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