How Would A US-Taliban Agreement Change Afghanistan?

American troop numbers could go down, but would a U.S. pullback bring stability?

By Rhonda FanningSeptember 2, 2019 12:14 pm,

The Associated Press reports that a U.S. envoy has shown a draft deal with the Taliban to the Afghan government, declaring that we are “at the threshold of an agreement to end 18 years of U.S. fighting in Afghanistan.” In Texas – a state with the second-largest number of military installations in the country – the prospect of ending America’s longest-running war is a big deal.

Aaron O’Connell is professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin. He also served as a special assistant to General David Petraeus in Afghanistan. He says a timeline for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan has been a major sticking point in negotiations up until now. 

“The Taliban is asking that the United States commit to a full troop withdrawal on a pretty aggressive timeline,” O’Connell says. “They’re asking for something like 12 months. The United States has not committed to that.”

When President Donald Trump took office, 8,000 U.S. troops were serving in Afghanistan. Since then, O’Connell says a “mini-surge” has added 5,000 troops. A question for negotiators is whether withdrawal from Afghanistan would mean the removal of all U.S. troops or only those who’ve have been added in the past few years. 

“The United States has effectively committed to taking that 5,000 back out, and then the Taliban is saying, ‘And now we want the remaining 8,000 out within 12 months,'” O’Connell says. 

To return the U.S. presence in Afghanistan to “a normal embassy presence,” the number of troops remaining would need to be in the hundreds, not the thousands, O’Connell says. 

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– How the U.S. reached this point in negotiations

– What the Taliban would gain from the U.S. leaving

– Why the war has continued for 18 years


Written by Shelly Brisbin.