UPDATED 6:47 AM PT — Wednesday, August 21, 2019
The Trump administration said it’s ready to end peace talks with the Taliban. On Tuesday, a top U.S. negotiator for the Afghan region said he’s returning to the Qatari capitol of Doha Wednesday to finish what he hopes is the last round of discussions with the terrorist group.
President Trump, who has long been a critic of the Afghan war, told reporters this week he believes the talks with the Taliban are going well.
“Right now, what we’re doing is we’re negotiating with the government and we’re negotiating with the Taliban, and we’ll see what happens from it,” he stated. “I will say this, the Taliban would like to stop fighting us…they’ve lost a lot, but we’ll see what happens.”
This follows months of negotiations with Taliban leaders. The War in Afghanistan has been raging for nearly 18-years, making it the longest war in U.S. history. In the past decade, over 32,000 people have died as a result of the conflict.
Currently, about 14,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Afghanistan. However, the current peace plan seeks to drop that number by about 5,000 in exchange for the Taliban cutting ties with Al-Qaeda.
Despite the win for the Trump administration, should the talks be successful, many critics in the region still fear the deal won’t do enough to abate radical extremism. Just this weekend, a terrorist connected to a local ISIS affiliate group staged a suicide bombing at a wedding ceremony in Kabul, which killed over 60 people.
Although the Islamic State has been virtually eliminated in Syria and Iraq, reports show the self-declared caliphate still has a presence in Afghanistan.
Critics are concerned that many militants associated with the Taliban may join the local ISIS sector rather than abide by the peace plan. However, President Trump said he plans on having intelligence keep an eye on the Taliban even if U.S. troops pull out.
“We’ll always have intelligence and we’ll always have somebody there, but you can say that about a lot of places,” said the president. “It doesn’t have to be that sector, but that does seem to be the Harvard University of terrorism…it seems to be and we’ll always have somebody there.”
The Taliban currently controls over half of Afghanistan. Talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are expected to continue following the agreement, however, the Taliban has thus far refused to negotiate with Kabul.