As per the Afghan peace deal signed during the Trump presidency, the US troop exit was set to begin yesterday, however, soon after the new Biden Administration took over, the agreement was reviewed and the deadline pushed ahead, much to the ire of the Afghan Taliban who in the last 24 hours, have given a preview of things to come. Strategic areas of Kandahar, Balkh, Herat and Nangarhar have all seen a rise in violence with at least 16 security force members killed. Kabul is now on high alert as military presence at checkpoints was beefed up with an expectation that more attacks are imminent after a suicide bombing at a guest house in the capital yesterday killed at least 21 with 90 others wounded. According to a report, since the deal in 2020, the Taliban have provided protection to US and NATO bases against rogue Islamic extremist groups, while targeting Afghan civilians. Although there has been no admission by either side that such an agreement exists, the fact that there have been no US combat deaths since February 2020, and only isolated attacks on US bases, it becomes clear that there is some understanding in place. If the Taliban are not pacified in the coming days, it seems the same security may no longer be available and US troops will be left to fend for themselves, or perhaps even have to face some action from the Taliban as well.
An extremely volatile situation has developed over the past few months after President Biden announced a complete exit from the ‘endless war’, as he puts it, by September, as the Taliban refuse to come to the negotiating table, refusing to attend talks to take place post-Eid in Istanbul after already skipping the ones that took place in Qatar this past week. A high-level delegation from Pakistan visited Kabul a few days back where Afghan counterparts pleaded to somehow convince the Taliban to rejoin the peace process. A joint effort is now required on part of regional players China, Russia and Iran along with Pakistan to somehow make the Taliban understand that the only route to a stable and prosperous Afghanistan is if all stakeholders work together as a coalition rather than continue fighting.