Afghan peace talks: Time to trust the Taliban?

Understandably, and commendably, US president Mr Trump wants his troops out of Afghanistan and back home before he runs for a second term next year. His Mexican Wall has not been built; North Korea is still a potential nuclear power; he has not succeeded in repatriating jobs; his promise to cut the US trade deficit has been broken — it’s at a record high; federal debt has soared; and the Washington swamp, far from being drained, has been replenished. Ending an 18-year-long war that has been so costly in blood and treasure, 220,000 lives and €875bn, would be a notable tick in the credit column.

Afghan peace talks: Time to trust the Taliban?

Understandably, and commendably, US president Mr Trump wants his troops out of Afghanistan and back home before he runs for a second term next year.

His Mexican Wall has not been built; North Korea is still a potential nuclear power; he has not succeeded in repatriating jobs; his promise to cut the US trade deficit has been broken — it’s at a record high; federal debt has soared; and the Washington swamp, far from being drained, has been replenished.

Ending an 18-year-long war that has been so costly in blood and treasure, 220,000 lives and €875bn, would be a notable tick in the credit column.

Such an ending might flow from the months of negotiations that have been going on in Qatar between US diplomats and the Taliban, from which the Afghan government has been excluded. The aim is an agreement under which US forces would be withdrawn in exchange for a Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan would not become a terrorist safe haven.

This is the Taliban that looked on while al-Qaida planned its 9/11 mass murders, and the Taliban that earlier this month bombed a police station in Kabul that killed 14 people just as their delegates were taking part in what they said were “useful” talks in Qatar.

Two languages are spoken in Afghanistan, where a growing IS presence poses a renewed threat to the West. Persian and Pashto, doubtless, have warnings that when translated we would find familiar: something about foxes and chicken runs.

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