After 18 years of fighting in Afghanistan, the United States has secured an agreement with regional forces to officially end the warring.
As the Associated Press reports, the historic agreement will end America’s longest-ever war that started shortly after the U.S. invaded the country after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“The historic deal, signed by chief negotiators from the two sides and witnessed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, could see the withdrawal of all American and allied forces in the next 14 months and allow President Donald Trump to keep a key campaign pledge to extract the U.S. from ‘endless wars,’” the Associated Press reports.
BREAKING: The US and Taliban have signed a historic peace deal, in which the US has agreed to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan within 14 months.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 29, 2020
At the White House, Trump told reporters the U.S. deserves credit for having helped Afghanistan take a step toward peace. He spoke cautiously of the deal’s prospects for success and cautioned the Taliban against violating their commitments.
“We think we’ll be successful in the end,” he said, referring to all-Afghan peace talks and a final U.S. exit. He said he will be “meeting personally with Taliban leaders in the not-too-distant future,” and described the group as “tired of war.”
President Trump has made ending this and other U.S. military engagements a priority in his administration, but cautioned he would re-enter the country should the deal be broken.
“If bad things happen, we’ll go back,” Trump said at the White House.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed similar sentiments, saying the U.S. is optimistically cautious.
“Today, we are realistic. We are seizing the best opportunity for peace in a generation,” Pompeo said per the report. “Today, we are restrained. We recognize that America shouldn’t fight in perpetuity in the graveyard of empires if we can help Afghans forge peace.”
At the core of the peace agreement is bringing home U.S. military service members who have spent months and years fighting throughout the country.
According to the report, the U.S. military would immediately start to scale back its forces in Afghanistan, from 13,000 to 8,600 over the next three to four months.
The remaining forces would be pulled over the next 14 months, resulting in a “complete pullout” should the Afghani members, including the Taliban, keep their side of the agreement.
The Associated Press adds:
The deal sets the stage for intra-Afghan peace talks to begin around March 10, with the aim of negotiating a permanent cease-fire and a power-sharing agreement between rival Afghan groups. It’s perhaps the most complicated and difficult phase of the plan. It does not, however, tie America’s withdrawal to any specific outcome from the all Afghan talks, according to U.S. officials.
Pompeo said that “the chapter of American history on the Taliban is written in blood” and stressed that while the road ahead would be difficult, the deal represented “the best opportunity for peace in a generation.”
While ending the conflict is undoubtedly good news, ABC News reports some “Afghan war vets [are] torn on US-Taliban deal.”
These skeptics are reportedly worried about who will emerge as the power player in the region once the U.S. is gone from it.
“If they sign a peace treaty and Afghanistan goes back to the Taliban or Sharia law, then it’s all been for nothing,” said former Army Staff Sgt. Will Blackburn, ABC News reports.
“Anything that would get us out of that country, I will support fully,” he added.
Many other veterans of the conflict are pleased with the new deal, like Former Sgt. Michael Carrasquillo who told the outlet: “Peace in any way, shape or form is a good thing.”
“We don’t want more guys to die or to get injured,” added Carrasquillo, who leads a support group for wounded veterans.
The outlet reports:
Former Sgt. Michael Carrasquillo served as an infantrymen in the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade when his unit was ambushed in Afghanistan in 2005. Shot five times while dragging a wounded comrade to safety, Carrasquillo spent the next two years in the hospital and underwent dozens of surgeries.