US and Taliban sign deal in Doha

After 18 months of negotiations the US and the Taliban have signed a peace agreement in Doha aimed at ending the conflict that started in 2001. Among other things, the deal provides for the withdrawal of US troops by 2021, in return for which the Taliban promise that Afghanistan will no longer pose a terrorist threat. What are the chances of peace?

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Islamists have become more pragmatic

Despite many open questions the Neue Zürcher Zeitung sees reason to be optimistic about the US agreement:

“The Taliban have plunged Afghanistan into terror in recent years, but at the same time they have learned a few things politically. Their leaders know that they can no longer afford to be seen as international pariahs. They are aware that Afghanistan will continue to depend on foreign aid. ... In their spheres of influence they have shown astonishing pragmatism at times. ... The Taliban are bursting with self-confidence, but they know that they can't dictate the terms. That gives us hope - at least a little.”

The Times (GB) /

Trump making too many concessions

This is a hasty agreement that doesn't bode well, warns The Times:

“Mr Trump’s wish to pull out his troops is understandable. The war has soaked up billions in cash and claimed more than 2,400 American lives. But, in his haste to meet the demands of the electoral cycle, the president may have conceded too much ground. He was not able, for example, to force the Taliban to end hostilities altogether before the deal was signed. Instead the group agreed only to a 'significant' reduction in violence. ...Meanwhile Islamic State lurks in the background, waiting for a chance to increase its strength. Mr Trump has long blamed President Obama and his rushed withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 for the rise of the jihadists. He should beware of making similar mistakes.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Power struggles loom in the neighbourhood

The US's withdrawal could lead to substantial unrest in the region, Jutarnji list fears:

“Iran wants to ensure that the Shiite minority can shake up the Sunni majority and Pakistan will bring in its ally, China, meaning that India will have to react, even though it is busy dealing with Kashmir. Even Russia is at risk: an invigorated radical Islam could spill over to countries in Central Asia that Russia considers to be within its sphere of influence. And even more dangerous: radicalism could easily spread from there to the unstable Caucasus. The US will observe all this from a safe distance - and enjoy watching a weakened Iran and China attempt to maintain their influence in an important zone of national interest.”