Pandemic vs. Peace
While the U.S. embraces “wartime” footing against COVID-19, here’s the latest on the pandemic’s impact on America’s longest war.
On February 29, America announced the framework for a “peace deal” with the Taliban, effectively providing a pathway to ending America’s longest war.
In exchange for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops, the Taliban agreed to cut ties with terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, negotiate with the current Afghan government, and “reduce violence.”
“Both sides should accelerate efforts to meet targets specified in the US-Taliban agreement as soon as possible. The potential for COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons poses a real threat and all the more reason to move urgently.”
U.S. Special Rep for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, on prisoner release plans as part of "peace deal." Reportedly, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners are set to be released by the Afghan gov't while the Taliban is set to release 1,000 Afghan prisoners.
Why This Matters
- Progress has been slow after the “peace deal” was announced.
- The prisoner release is a precursor to other items such as a political agreement between the Taliban & Afghan gov’t.
- Initial withdrawal of 5,000 U.S. soldiers (out of approx. 13,000) is set in next few months if certain goals are met; the challenges of meeting these goals cannot be understated.
Something To Consider:
- The Taliban recently reportedly promoted photos of their well-equipped, armed “special ops” unit. The “Red Unit” has led attacks on Afghan forces.
- Local al-Qaeda affiliates shared the photos.
- Why It Matters: As part of the peace deal, the Taliban agreed to cut ties with terrorist groups. Taliban attacks on Afghan forces have continued.
The first American soldiers landed in Afghanistan in October 2001. Reportedly, Taliban members are being recruited by al-Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks. In the meantime, 3 American contractors were evacuated from Afghanistan this weekend after testing positive for COVID-19.
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by Jenna Lee,