Although President Trump abruptly ended talks with the Taliban, within a few months, the United States will again have to sit down with Taliban leaders to negotiate an agreement that protects U.S. security interests and provides for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. combat troops. The fighting will intensify and Afghans will continue to die, but the final agreement is likely to mirror the agreement Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad negotiated with the Taliban this summer.
The Trump administration deserves credit for trying to extricate the United States from an unwinnable 18-year war. However, the U.S. and the international community should make a nationwide ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue a priority and insist that all Afghan stake-holders, including women, be included in each phase of reconciliation. As well, they must support Afghan peace efforts by facilitating impartial mediation and a UN-backed peace-keeping force to prevent a security vacuum once U.S. troops are withdrawn.
Successful implementation of a peace agreement in Afghanistan could serve as a template for resolving the other seemingly-intractable conflicts in the Middle East and northern Africa.