From Asia Times
As far as realpolitik Afghanistan is concerned, with or without a deal, the US military want to stay in what is a priceless Greater Middle East base to deploy hybrid war techniques
Taliban representatives in peace talks with the US
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Nearly two decades after the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan post-9/11, and after an interminable war costing over $ 2 trillion, there's hardly anything "historic" about a possible peace deal that may be signed in Doha this coming Saturday between Washington and the Taliban.
We should start by stressing three points.
1- The Taliban wanted all US troops out. Washington refused.2- The possible deal only reduces US troops from 13,000 to 8,600. That's the same number already deployed before the Trump administration.
3- The reduction will only happen a year and a half from now, assuming what's being described as a truce holds.
So there would be no misunderstanding, Taliban Deputy Leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, in an op-ed certainly read by everyone inside the Beltway, detailed their straightforward red line: total US withdrawal.
And Haqqani is adamant: there's no peace deal if US troops stay.
Still, a deal looms. How come? Simple: enter a series of secret "annexes."
The top US negotiator, the seemingly eternal Zalmay Khalilzad, a remnant of the Clinton and Bush eras, has spent months codifying these annexes as confirmed by a source in Kabul currently not in government but familiar with the negotiations.
Let's break them down to four points.
1- US counter-terror forces would be allowed to stay. Even if approved by the Taliban leadership, this would be anathema to the masses of Taliban fighters.
2- The Taliban would have to denounce terrorism and violent extremism. That's rhetorical, not a problem.
3- There will be a scheme to monitor the so-called truce while different warring Afghan factions discuss the future, what the US State Dept. describes as "intra-Afghan negotiations." Culturally, as we'll see later, Afghans of different ethnic backgrounds will have a tremendously hard time monitoring their own warring.
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