US and Taliban agree on framework peace deal

The US and the radical Islamist Taliban have agreed on a framework for a peace accord in Afghanistan. According to Washington the deal comprises a promise by the Taliban not to allow international terrorists to hide in the country as well as plans for a speedy US troop withdrawal. Is this a victory or a defeat for the US?

Open/close all quotes
Corriere della Sera (IT) /

No such thing as war for a good cause anymore

This is the umpteenth defeat for the US in its role as global policeman, columnist Paolo Mieli comments bitterly in Corriere della Sera:

“Once again the US has lost a war and crowned as victors those it once called its enemies - with whom it had claimed it would never reach an arrangement. It happened in Vietnam in the mid-1970s and has been repeated several times since then. ... When you have no idea how to reconstruct a country, when it's clear that you're going to retreat without having achieved anything and that you'll leave thousands of casualties and have engendered widespread resentment among the local population, it's time to radically reappraise the idea of military force in the name of a good cause. As noble as it might appear on paper.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Afghanistan being left to the Taliban

The agreement with the Taliban is tantamount to the US throwing in the towel, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments:

“President Bush started the war after the attacks in New York and Washington in September 2001. The plan was to disable the terrorists and all those who allowed them to set up shop on their territory. And it seemed as if that goal had been quickly achieved: al-Qaeda was destroyed, the Taliban leadership collapsed. But then Bush switched his focus to his war adventure in Iraq. Afghanistan was neglected, the Taliban crawled back out of their hiding places. They became a force to be reckoned with once more. Bush's successor Obama tried to defeat them once and for all with a large-scale troop deployment, but that second attempt also failed. ... President Trump now seems determined to end the war in Afghanistan and pretty much leave the country to the Taliban.”

Total defeat for Washington

At first glance one could see the agreement as a success for Trump, but at second glance things look pretty bleak, writes Ukrainian journalist Iliya Kusa on his Facebook page:

“This breakthrough is a boon for Donald Trump, who first brought up the topic of a troop withdrawal in 2017. ... Now he has a chance to make his dream come true while amassing political capital before the 2020 elections. ... In reality, however, the agreement represents a total defeat for the US, in view of its 18 years of military presence in the country. ... This not only raises questions about the legalisation of terrorists and the moral basis for the Taliban's return to power. It also involves relinquishing positions in a geostrategically important part of Asia.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Refugees would head for Europe

For the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the conditions do not guarantee a stable peace:

“The Taliban has improved its military position in recent years and has little incentive to make substantial concessions. The foreign troop providers, first and foremost the Americans, by contrast, want out of this seemingly never-ending war. ... If Washington agrees to withdraw its troops in exchange for a (necessarily vague) promise that the Taliban will no longer tolerate foreign terrorists, it would be too little. Without domestic reconciliation the country will remain unstable. And the consequences in the form of a continued inflow of refugees wouldn't be borne by America, but by Europe.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Fear of new reign of terror

The Afghan government is being sidelined in the negotiations, criticises Frank van Vliet, senior foreign affairs editor at De Telegraaf:

“The Afghan president Ashraf Ghani is familiar with his country's history and knows that a peace agreement won't last long. ... He is all too aware that Trump wants to withdraw his troops quickly. The US has had enough of Afghanistan. He fears, not without reason, that the Taliban will seize power again and install an Islamist reign of terror in which there is no place for music, sport or women's rights. The promise of the Taliban to no longer tolerate foreign terrorists has no value for the Afghan people and is uncertain for the rest of the world.”