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The United States signs agreement with the Taliban to withdraw troops and end the 18-year war

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DOHA (QATAR): The United States signed an agreement with the Taliban on Saturday that sets the stage for an end to the longest war in the United States: the nearly two-decade conflict in Afghanistan that began after the September 11 attacks and killed tens of thousands of people. , annoyed three administrations of the White House and left distrust and uncertainty on all sides.

The agreement establishes a schedule for the final withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the impoverished country of Central Asia, once unknown to many Americans, which now symbolizes endless conflicts, foreign entanglements and a possible stage of terrorist conspiracies.

The war in Afghanistan somehow echoes the American experience in Vietnam. In both, a superpower strongly opted for the brute force and life of its youth, and then left with apparently little to show.

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US efforts to instill a democratic system in the country and improve opportunities for women and minorities are at risk if the Taliban, who banned girls from schools and women from public life, are once again dominant. Corruption remains rampant, the country’s institutions are weak and the economy depends heavily on US and other international aid. The signing of the agreement in Doha, which followed more than a year of detention and initiation negotiations and significantly excluded the US-backed government of Afghanistan, is not a final peace agreement and could still fall apart. But it is seen as a step towards negotiating a broader agreement that some hope could end the Taliban insurgency, the militant movement that once ruled Afghanistan under a severe Islamic code.

The war cost $ 2 billion and claimed the lives of more than 3,500 US and coalition soldiers and tens of thousands of Afghans since the invasion of the United States following the September 11 attacks, which were conspired by the leaders of the United States. Qaida under the protection of the Taliban

According to the joint statement, the United States will complete its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan within 14 months with the initial reduction of forces from a total of 13,000 to 8,600 over the next four months. In the first 135 days, the United States will reduce the number of US forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 and proportionally reduce the number of its allies and coalition forces. The United States pledges to withdraw all its military forces, troops from its allies and coalition partners from Afghanistan within 14 months of the agreement.

The withdrawal of US troops depends on the Taliban’s fulfillment of the main commitments that have been obstacles for years, including breaking ties with international terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.

The agreement signed on Saturday also depends on more difficult negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government on the country’s future. Officials expect those talks to produce an agreement to share power and a lasting ceasefire, but both ideas have been anathema to the Taliban in the past. “The future of Afghanistan is for Afghans to determine it,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Doha for the ceremony. “The agreement between the United States and the Taliban creates the conditions for Afghans to do exactly that.” The Trump administration has framed the agreement as the long-awaited promise made to Americans tired of war, for whom the Afghan war has defined a generation of losses and traumas, but has not given any victory.

At the height of the war, more than 100,000 US troops occupied Afghanistan, as did tens of thousands of approximately 40 nations in the US-led NATO coalition. The war has lasted so long (the first Allied fighter plane and the cruise missiles attacked on October 7, 2001, and the American boots made landfall on October 19) that many young Afghan soldiers and their coalition partners do not remember its beginning

“If the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan fulfill these commitments, we will have a powerful way to end the war in Afghanistan and take our troops home,” President Donald Trump said Friday before signing the agreement. “These commitments represent an important step towards a lasting peace in a new Afghanistan, free of al-Qaida, ISIS and any other terrorist group that seeks to harm us.”

Since the beginning of the talks, at the end of 2018, Afghan officials were worried that the Taliban had prevented them from participating. They worried that Trump would abruptly withdraw troops from Afghanistan without guaranteeing any of the conditions they considered crucial, including a reduction in violence and a Taliban promise to negotiate in good faith with the government.

The main US envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, signed on behalf of the United States. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, current Taliban deputy and an original Taliban government figure, signed for the Taliban. The two shook hands when the room burst into cheers. During the signing, another senior US official, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, was with Afghan officials in Kabul. They issued a joint statement affirming the commitment of the United States to continue financing and supporting the Afghan army. And Esper emphasized that if the Taliban did not keep their promises, “the United States would not hesitate to cancel the agreement.”

Afghan officials expressed cautious hope. At the Kabul meeting, President Ashraf Ghani asked for a moment of silence for those killed in the last 18 years and said: “Today may be a day to overcome the past.”

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