Getting the Afghanistan Peace Process Back on Track

Summary of Study

Bottom line: The Trump administration’s suspension of talks with the Taliban was a mistake. Peace negotiations are the United States’ best option in Afghanistan, and should resume as quickly as possible.

President Trump killed peace talks with a tweet.

The United States began negotiations with the Taliban for the first time in late 2018. After a year of talks, the two parties were poised to sign a peace agreement. President Trump then ended these talks by inviting Taliban leaders to Camp David, and abruptly calling off the meeting and declaring negotiations “dead.” That left the United States with limited options with regard to Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t have a better option than negotiations.

Without a negotiated peace, the United States could “unilaterally withdraw its forces, irrespective of progress toward intra-Afghanistan negotiations.” If that happened, regional conflict would persist, and the Taliban would likely ramp up violence. The United States could also maintain a troop presence in the region, which is “a recipe for war with no foreseeable end.” The best option is a resumption of negotiations.

Resuming negotiations can yield regional peace talks and benefit every stakeholder.

Though the United States would have to offer some concessions to the Taliban, negotiating peace is the only way to guarantee a smooth withdrawal of U.S. troops that doesn’t lead to further regional destruction. Peace talks would also be an on-ramp for intra-Afghanistan negotiations, which could lead to an agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government, and hopefully lead to long-term regional stability and autonomy.

Read the full report here.