A U.S.-Taliban Deal Is Likely. Peace in Afghanistan Is Not.

Oct 3, 2019 | 09:00 GMT

A man walks by election billboards outside of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's campaign headquarters in Kabul on Sept. 29.

As the U.S. conflict in Afghanistan enters its 19th year, several significant developments have unfolded in recent weeks that will shape the country's security and governance dynamics. 



  • The wider war in Afghanistan will continue until the Taliban and the Afghan government agree to a nationwide cease-fire in separate talks.
  • The continued violence will cause hiccups in U.S.-Taliban negotiations, but their mutual desire for a political settlement will still eventually yield a limited peace deal.
  • The prospects for long-term stability in Afghanistan, however, will be dictated more by the Afghan government that emerges following Sept. 28 elections.

After nearly a year of negotiations, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad announced a draft peace deal with the Taliban on Sept. 2. But shortly thereafter, an insurgent attack in Kabul prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to abruptly call off negotiations on Sept. 7, which were aimed at starting the long process to finally end their 18-year conflict in Afghanistan. U.S.-Taliban talks, however, were always likely to resume due to the two sides' shared need for a political settlement. And indeed, it looks like they just might in the coming days, with officials from both sides arriving in Pakistan on Oct. 2.  But until the government in Kabul reaches its own "intra-Afghan" cease-fire agreement with the Taliban, fighting will persist regardless of whatever deal the United States eventually strikes with the insurgent organization. And thus, the fate of peace in Afghanistan will hinge more whether the winner of the country's Sept. 28 presidential...

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