Bangladesh/Qatar: The whole world is looking at the results of the American presidential election. Democratic candidate Joe Biden is currently edging out Republican incumbent Donald Trump. Many foreign policies are expected to changed if there is a shift in the presidency.
Although sporadic efforts at peace talks to end the 19-year conflict in Afghanistan have continued, negotiations intensified since 2018. The Taliban, The United States, and the Afghan government continue to struggle toward an agreement. Thousands of American troops have maintained a presence in the country to support the Afghan government against the Taliban. In addition to the United States, regional powers such as Pakistan, China, India, and Russia, as well as NATO, play a role in facilitating the peace process.
So far, two peace agreements have been signed: an agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and the Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) militant group on 22 September 2016, and a conditional agreement between the United States and the Taliban on 29 February 2020, in accordance with the terms of the Taliban agreement calling for the withdrawal of US troops within 14 months. Talks between the Afghan state and Taliban officials in Doha have been ongoing since September.
Changes expected under a Biden administration?
With new leadership in the United States, there are questions about these agreements moving forward. Taliban spokesperson, Dr. Muhammad Naeem Wardak told Transcontinental Times, “We hope that the internal changes of US will not have a negative effect on the process of negotiations between the Afghans.”
He added, “Negotiations between Afghans are ongoing.”
International relations expert Faridul Alam told Transcontinental Times, “Joe Biden will follow the same policy [negotiated during the] Afghan peace talks. Because [the US] is not getting the expected results from the economic expenditure of US troops outside the country, so they are withdrawing troops. More than 5,000 US troops have died in various countries. They are basically leaving in the name of peace deal. This is a diplomatic policy. I don’t think Joe Biden will go beyond that decision.”
Afghan media is expressing concern that if Biden wins, the US-Taliban deal is at risk. A source on the ground told Transcontinental Times, “Biden will put tough conditions for the Taliban.” In a recent CBS News interview, another spokesperson for the Taliban expressed desire for Trump to remain in office, seeing him as an ally in their efforts.
While talks are underway, militant groups continue to launch attacks in Afghanistan, most recently in Kabul. 44 students and faculty were gunned down in the journalism and law schools on 2 November; 22 died. Islamic State in Afghanistan (IS) took credit for the attack.