After many years of conflict in Afghanistan, the destructive impact of a complex set of internal contradictions and the frequent change of priorities in the approaches of external players have further aggravated tensions in this strategically important part of Central Asia.
The complex tangle of inter-community and inter-clan disagreements, differences in the approaches of the authorities of several leading provinces toward the agenda for intra-Afghan dialogue, as well as general tension in the country once again confirm the inefficiency of any efforts to end the war, except negotiations between the conflicting parties: the Taliban , the central authorities and the Americans. All this is worsened by the fact that each side is torn between different, often totally opposite approaches. At the same time, there is some distrust within the Taliban movement regarding the deal with the Americans. Republican Zalmay Khalilzad, the old fox, who served in Afghanistan under the Reagan and Bush administrations and was involved in the reconciliation process as the president’s special envoy, worked out the details of a future deal with the Taliban and most likely thought about the possible withdrawal of the United States from the "game" under the guise of some “victory plan,” or perhaps as a respite.
One way or another, the signing of an agreement with the Taliban and the beginning of the American troops’ withdrawal according to Donald Trump’s plan, as well as 5,000 Taliban supporters being granted amnesty by the newly-sworn president Ashraf Ghani, has given some hope for the beginning of a peace process. But according to many experts, such a perception of the situation in the country can be misleading. Armed groups affiliated with ISIS continue to operate in the so-called “pro-Taliban” regions, as evidenced by US preventive military operations in the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Kunduz and Nangarhar. Prominent political analyst Barnett Rubin, in one of his publications in Foreign Affairs, quotes General John Nicholson, former commander of the US military contingent in Afghanistan, as saying that the United States and the Afghan government are in a “deadlock”. Proponents of continued pressure on the Taliban in the Pentagon fear the latter’s strengthening in line with a scenario akin to the one that played out in the late 80s, after the Soviet military contingent had withdrawn. Rubin argues in his warnings that the 1988 Geneva agreements between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the USSR and the USA provided for the withdrawal of all Soviet troops from Afghanistan by February 1989, while Pakistan and the United States were to stop providing assistance to the Mujahideen, based in Pakistan, by May 1988. However, these agreements did not provide for any political settlement inside Afghanistan, which subsequently led to chaos and civil war in the country. Therefore, given the controversial, extremely problematic situation at hand, it is impossible to rule out the repetition of that negative outcome.