On February 29, 2020, the United States and the Afghan Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha, Qatar, to end the long war in Afghanistan. The agreement contains much of the same terms that were agreed in September 2019, but were cut by President Trump. Essentially, this agreement requires the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the Afghan coalition in exchange for a promise that the Taliban would not allow terrorist groups to operate on Afghan soil. However, the agreement is based on several assumptions that will make its success problematic. This agreement requires an Afghan government operating in Kabul, with which it will be possible to negotiate. The recent Afghan presidential elections have not upset those responsible, but the waters. The failure of the presidential election took place last September, but the vote counting process was so confusing and controversial that the winner was not announced until 18 February 2020, almost five months after the election. The erroneous and controversial elections led to a controversial and divided government in Kabul, which led to a deadlock over those responsible and made it difficult to implement the next stage of the peace agreement.
As a result, the Taliban, with a weak or divided government in Kabul, will be in a stronger position to dictate the terms of an agreement on the future of Afghanistan that would be favourable to their position. In the face of these challenges, the risk of the peace process collapsing or innocuous is considerable. In both cases, U.S. pressure to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan would likely increase. Some Republicans and Democrats are already in favour of a total withdrawal of American forces, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations. But that would be a mistake, especially if the Taliban are largely responsible. The United States still has interests in Afghanistan, such as preventing the country from becoming a sanctuary for international terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Self-proclaimed Islamic State; preventing regional instability, given that Russia, Iran, Pakistan and India are competing to exert influence in Afghanistan; and to minimize the likelihood of a serious humanitarian crisis.