"Framework" to end Afghan war in place (?)

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"Framework" to end Afghan war in place (?)

I'm ending the title above with a question mark because I am skeptical:

American and Taliban officials have agreed in principle to the framework of a deal in which the insurgents would guarantee Afghan territory is never used by terrorists, which could lead to a full pullout of American troops in return for larger concessions from the Taliban, the chief United States negotiator said on Monday.

The negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, said those concessions must include the Taliban’s agreement to a cease-fire and to talk directly with the Afghan government, which the insurgents have persistently opposed in the past.

“We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement,” Mr. Khalilzad said in an interview with The New York Times in Kabul. “The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals.”

I guess this is all predicated on how far the word of the Taliban goes?  I guess?  I see two problems with that, the first being are these the most trustworthy people around?  And two, this assumes that the Taliban as a whole would agree to some agreement made by some within leadership.  Which also strikes me as more hopeful than I am.  The Taliban tends to be groups of semi-related parties rather than some monolithic bloc following whatever the leadership thinks.

And it's not clear how "all in" the elected government of Afghanistan is:

The optimism expressed by Khalilzad in his NYT interview may yet be dashed by dissent within the Taliban or opposition from the government in Kabul. Ghani immediately expressed his doubts about a rushed process from which his ministers had been excluded.

Last week Ghani acknowledged that more than 45,000 members of the Afghan security forces had died since 2014, a far higher number than previously thought. The Taliban run more than half the country and have not slowed the rate of attacks during winter, which is normally a lull. The group is increasingly confident that the US is losing the will to continue the war.

The Pentagon is cautiously optimistic, empahasis on cautious:

“This is a major breakthrough. It’s the closest we’ve ever been to ending this 18-year war. But a framework shouldn’t be mistaken for a deal. There is still a lot to flesh out,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Wilson Center. “Above all, the Afghan government needs to be brought into these discussions. And even with all this momentum, a fundamental challenge will remain in place: how to ensure that the Taliban holds up its end of the bargain and doesn’t take up arms again, in the event of a deal.”

Though U.S. officials expressed cautious optimism Monday, the Pentagon hasn’t adjusted its plans to continue aiding Afghan national forces fighting the Taliban.

In Washington, acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan called the developments “encouraging” but said he had not been asked to prepare for a full troop withdrawal.

At the very least this is a better chance for hope that at any time during the previous 18 years, but I'm still not very sanguine about the long-term prospect for peace.

(BTW- Picture above is me with radio.  While it's been 14 years I think I've aged about 35.)

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Since when did we start negotiating with terrorists??!!

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.