Peace in Afghanistan? It’s September all over again

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL January 18, 2020

Going by the news, the Taliban might be closer than at any point in a whole year of negotiations with the United States to signing a preliminary peace deal.

But we have, of course, been here before.

In September, Donald Trump reversed US approval for a deal that was all but signed. (Plans for the Taliban to show up at Camp David on 9/11, were well advanced, remember?)

It sounded ludicrous then, and it still sounds bananas.

So, what to make of reports that the Taliban are willing to briefly pull back on their most important leverage – violence?

The offer should be viewed with the scepticism it deserves? Scaling back attacks on major cities and highways for anywhere between seven and 10 days is insufficient for the Taliban to be considered a serious partner for peace. The proposal also, incidentally, falls well below the long-term ceasefire sought by the Afghan government, led by Ashraf Ghani.

There is Mr Trump’s well-advertised eagerness to exit Afghanistan (as well as the reality that this is a US presidential election year). But is he really so desperate to leave that he will take a brief lull in the most vicious violence as evidence of good faith?