The United States conducted an air raid against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan on March 4, less than a week after a reduction of violence deal was signed. Negotiations for a peace agreement were set to begin on March 10.
On March 4, U.S. Forces Afghanistan Spokesperson Colonel Sonny Legget tweeted, “The U.S. conducted an air strike on March 4 against Taliban fighters in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand, who were actively attacking an ANDSF [Afghan National Defence and Security Forces] checkpoint,” specifying it was a “defensive strike,” according to Al Jazeera.
James G. Stravrids, a retired American admiral and former top commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said, “The real key to whether Afghanistan avoids falling into an even longer civil war is the degree to which the United States and NATO are willing to fund and train the Afghan security forces over the long term, when Vietnam collapsed and the helicopters were lifting off the roof of the U.S. Embassy, it was the result of funding being stopped,” according to The New York Times.
Reduction in Violence Deal
On Feb. 26, the U.S. signed a treaty with the Taliban to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, receding U.S intelligence interest from the 18-year war. In exchange, the Taliban agreed to proceed efforts on counterterrorism and start negotiations with Afghan troops, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The deal was set to happen over a seven-day period and would involve a decrease in the presence of U.S. troops from 12,000 to approximately 8,600, according to NPR. Ally troops were also expected to decrease their presence.
The Taliban has been vague in their process to release prisoners and whether they will take action to safeguard women’s rights as promised in a treaty made back in September.
After signing the agreement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said to the Military Times it was an agreement of a “significant and nationwide” reduction in violence throughout Afghanistan
There have been concerns whether the Taliban and Afgan government would be able to come to an agreement once the U.S. recedes from the area. al-Qaida terrorist group leaders remain in Pakistan and could return to Afghanistan.
“No one wants to end endless wars more than those who have experienced them first hand and understand the price of them,” said David H. Petraeus, a former top American military commander in Afghanistan and C.I.A. director to The New York Times. “That said, we need to end them the right way, or as we have learned in the past, we may have to return to them.”
There is also concern whether the international community outside of the U.S. would continue to finance the Afghan government after a peace deal is made.
With a new horizon, the “future of their country resides in their hands, not ours,” Pompeo said to The Wall Street Journal.