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Pull-back: A false display

When the US-Taliban peace accord was signed in February, two of its classified annexes triggered a hullaballoo among Afghan and American politicos. The authorities concerned dodged many criticisms by alluding that the annexes set the criteria for a critical element of the agreement – which was what mechanism of ‘peace’ in Afghanistan is enough for the US to withdraw? They also came under fire for making the peace process predominantly vague as to the fact that whether the Taliban are even required to make peace with the Afghan government. According to people familiar with their contents, at the core of the two documents is a timeline for what should happen over the next 18 months and how the US will share information about its troop locations with the Taliban? Currently, it seems that contrary to the US President Donald Trump and his aides’ claims that the US would ensure the presence of counterterrorism forces and a significant CIA presence in the country, the Trump administration is mulling over pulling back CIA from Afghanistan. Justifying the pull-back move of frontline CIA personnel as a measure aimed at reducing violence in Afghanistan, the Trump administration is seemingly caving in to every single demand of the Taliban. This is while the insurgent group once sought complete withdrawal of the CIA but has now compromised only on cut in the intelligence network’s presence – whose main role now is stated to be cracking down on rebel outfits. The New York Times quoting some unnamed officials reported that one of the alternatives being discussed is “relocating agency personnel to the embassy in Kabul, enabling some level of American advice to militia groups operating under the oversight of Afghanistan’s intelligence service.” Nevertheless, these revelations are actually meant to keep the Taliban content and are justified through the pretexts of supposedly saving the peace deal. In fact, it is a façade at its best. If a peace deal couldn’t reduce violence – something explicitly agreed upon in the pact – how would cuts in CIA force do so? The fact that concessions should only come from the US and the Afghan government while the Taliban groups acts like a ‘spoilt child’ doesn’t add up – the concession of secretly accepting CIA and some US troops’ presence is an example from the Taliban side. This is directly linked to the two confidential annexes of the deal. Moreover, it seems the US is trying to show off that it’s moving back and pulling out while handing over the responsibility of preventing terrorist groups to the Afghan government and the Taliban but only to step back in after it shows to the world how these two entities failed to do so jointly. Judging from the circumstances, the US with a false display is playing a gambit to aggrandize the Taliban bit by bit but only to strike the group down to the ground when the time comes.

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