Continuing to back down and accepting everything that emerges from a largely failed peace process might be the best option now. It seems too late to attempt to obtain a significant military presence in the form of instructors or to offer security guarantees. Mutual distrust means that the peace process could collapse. The Taliban do not accept the internationally recognized Afghan government as legitimate, although it has run for three elections since the Taliban regime came to power after the fall of the U.S. invasion in 2001. Wednesday`s agreement sets the way for further talks, but it is seen as a breakthrough because it allows negotiators to move on to more substantive issues, including talks on a ceasefire. There is still a possibility – although it seems limited – that the United States could contribute to a more practical peace settlement if it offered conditional assistance, cooperated with its allies to establish effective international aid, and would provide some sort of guarantee of tickets in the form of air support and other aid to the Afghan government in the event of a failure of the peace process or peace agreement. Unlike the agreement between the United States and the Taliban, the joint statement explicitly refers to al Qaeda terrorist groups and the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Chorasan, not „armed groups.“ The United States and NATO have committed to training Afghan security forces (in accordance with existing security agreements [PDF]) and conducting counter-terrorism operations, while the Afghan government has pledged to prevent these terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a base and continuing to conduct counter-terrorism and anti-drug operations. Under the Trump administration, the agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban paved the way for intra-Afghanistan peace talks between the Kabul government and the Doha Taliban. However, no tangible progress has been made in these talks in the Qatari capital since the launch on 12 September.
(These civil and military issues are the subject of a thorough review, with comprehensive quotations, maps and graphs in Afghanistan: The Prospects for Real Peace, July 7, 2020, www.csis.org/analysis/afghanistan-prospects-real-peace.) The internal cohesion and weaknesses of the Afghan government and the Taliban will also play a role in the ability of all parties, including the United States, to implement these agreements. The Taliban in Afghanistan on Tuesday urged U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to continue to abide by the Doha peace agreement with the group signed during the Donald Trump administration. From the outset, the peace process in Afghanistan, which the United States agreed to in February 2012, seems to have been at least as much a smokescreen for American withdrawal as an attempt to achieve true peace. While the United States has never declared withdrawal to be its primary objective, its February agreement has done virtually nothing to define what could or should be peace with the Taliban. It has placed much more emphasis on total withdrawal in 14 months than on creating the conditions necessary for the success of peace negotiations. Second, issues relating to the composition of a future Afghan state must be resolved so that negotiations can be considered a success.