U.S.-Taliban Peace Deal Unlikely in Afghanistan

National Journal

The U.S. is abandoning hope for a peace agreement with the Taliban, The New York Times reports, as NATO’s top leader told a British newspaper that the coalition is considering a quicker withdrawal of Western troops.

Once a key part of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, commanders on the ground and officials in Washington doubt the U.S. and the Taliban can have substantive peace talks, The Times reported.

Instead, the U.S. will work to secure a peace between the Taliban and the Afghan government, a deal that will eventually require approval from Pakistan. Substantive talks with the Taliban, officials told The Times, will most likely only happen after the withdrawal of American forces in 2014.

“It’s a very resilient enemy, and I’m not going to tell you it’s not,” a senior coalition officer told The Times. “It will be a constant battle, and it will be for years.”

Meanwhile, as so-called "green-on-blue" attacks, in which Afghan security forces have turned their weapons on their NATO counterparts, have increased this year, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday that Western troops may withdrawal from Afghanistan sooner the 2014 deadline, the U.K.’s Guardian reports.

Rasmussen said the recent attacks have been successful in undermining the “trust and confidence” between NATO and Afghan troops. With more than 50 such killings this year—far surpassing last year's count of 35—NATO might speed up its exit, Rasmussen said.

“From now until the end of 2014 you may see adaptation of our presence,” he told the Guardian. “Our troops can redeploy, take on other tasks, or even withdraw, or we can reduce the number of foreign troops. From now until the end of 2014 we will see announcements of re-deployments, withdrawals or drawdown … If the security situation allows, I would not exclude the possibility that in certain areas you could accelerate the process.”

Any such decision, he said, would come in the next three months, after Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, submits a progress report.

On Oct. 7, the U.S. will have fought in Afghanistan for 11 years. Over the weekend, the American death toll hit 2,000.

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