In addition to the formal agreement signed [PDF] between the United States and the Taliban, the New York Times and others reported that the agreement also contained classified annexes. In February 2020, members of Congress wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper expressing concerns about these annexes, particularly proposals that the United States would begin sharing information with the Taliban. Since then, U.S. Department of Defense and State Department officials have indicated that there are classified elements of the agreement, which probably refer to the conditions for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Third, the Taliban and the Afghan government face internal challenges that threaten their cohesion and credibility. The Afghan government is fragile. She was involved internally on Mr.
Ghani`s adoption of the agreement between the United States and the Taliban (in which the Afghan government did not participate) and in negotiations on the controversial outcome of the September 2019 Afghan presidential election. The elections led to months of wists over the results, leading to the termination of Mr. Ghani`s and Abdullah`s presidential oath in March 2020. While the power-sharing agreement reached by Ghani and Abdullah in May 2020 allows Abdullah to lead the High Council for National Reconciliation and appoint half of the Afghan government`s Cabinet members, tensions between Ghani and Abdullah and their respective political camps remain high. Further breakdowns in their relations would threaten the Afghan government`s ability to present a unified front in negotiations with the Taliban. Beyond political tensions at the highest level, the Afghan government is also plagued by a high level of corruption and a strained ability to exercise control outside Kabul and some other major cities. Powerful civil servants, warlords and politicians representing Afghanistan`s largest ethnic minorities can challenge any deal the government is trying to reach with the Taliban. Based on publicly available information, I found that the Taliban met only two of the seven conditions set out in their peace agreement with the United States: the release of 1,000 Afghan prisoners and participation in talks with the Afghan government. The annexes to the agreement between the United States and the Taliban, which has never been published, should limit the fighting. According to a well-placed source, the Taliban were allowed to continue their operations in rural areas, but not in major cities.
Both the agreement between the United States and the Taliban and the joint declaration decide to create a lasting ceasefire in Afghanistan as a precondition for a political solution. Second, issues relating to the composition of a future Afghan state must be resolved so that negotiations can be considered a success. The Afghan government and the Taliban will have to address fundamental ideological concerns, as well as deep and practical concerns about power-sharing, transitional justice and disarmament, the demobilization and reintegration of the Taliban into the Afghan security forces. The Taliban`s stated goal for Afghanistan was to restore the overthrown Islamic Emirate in 2001. If the Taliban take their participation in these negotiations seriously and enter into a power-sharing agreement with the Afghan government, they must be flexible and willing to compromise, including for others.