US paves the way for Taliban's return to Afghan government

The military of the United States and NATO can be withdrawn from Afghanistan within 14 months. The US and Afghan government announced this in a joint statement. After a year and a half of negotiations, the US and the Taliban have entered into a basic agreement to eventually reach a peace settlement in Afghanistan.

The treaty now concluded in Dubai has not been signed by the Afghan government. The intention is to start negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Kabul, so that ultimately one joint Afghan regime will be established. One of the first steps towards peace would be the withdrawal of the first 8,600 US soldiers within 135 days of signing the agreement.

UN chief António Guterres has welcomed a basic agreement between the US and the Taliban. He stressed that the agreement must have the effect of reducing violence in the country. The Taliban and the US have signed an agreement in Qatar that should lead to a peace settlement for Afghanistan.

The EU has welcomed the signing as "important first steps". The Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs, Blok, also called it "a first step towards peace". US President Trump has welcomed the signing of the basic agreement as "the beginning of the end of America's longest war."

Trump, who has little interest in foreign military interventions, is delighted with this possible success in foreign policy. In October 2001, the Americans invaded Afghanistan. They went into battle with the Taliban, which allegedly housed al-Qaeda terrorist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks. Since 2001, 150,000 Afghans and more than 2,400 American soldiers were killed in the war in Afghanistan. 1100 NATO soldiers died, including 25 Dutchmen.

Dutch journalist and Afghanistan expert Bette Dam also sees the agreement that has now been concluded as a possible start of a new period. She has closely followed the negotiations in Dubai. The Americans see the Taliban as a group that has always supported al-Qaeda. Many Americans say the Taliban also had to deal with 9/11, but that is not the case. According to her, the Taliban is much more a pro-Western group than many think. They have been fighting the militant and fundamentalist IS for a very long time.

The United States will leave Afghan politics alone from now on and will lift the sanctions against Taliban leaders. The question is how the country will be governed in the future. The current government has not signed the agreement.

"The Taliban want a purely Islamic state, an Islamic emirate," says Bette Dam. "What you hear a lot is that it can sometimes become a kind of Iran. According to Dam, it is much too early to call the agreement 'historic'. “A lot depends on whether the current Afghan government is going to negotiate with the Taliban. Those groups are further apart than ever. "