Small Wars Journal

Brief Ceasefire With Taliban Could Be Watershed Moment In Afghan War

Sun, 06/24/2018 - 8:29am

Brief Ceasefire With Taliban Could Be Watershed Moment In Afghan War by Pamela Constable – Washington Post

KABUL — For three extraordinary days this month, the 17-year Afghan conflict took its first formal break, generating a spontaneous outpouring of emotion on all sides and leaving indelible images of Taliban fighters eating at ice cream stands, hugging tearful Afghan soldiers and praying alongside their longtime enemies.

Now, the insurgents have returned to the fight, launching attacks in several provinces after bluntly refusing President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce that ended June 17. Yet the success of the brief but bloodless cease-fire is being widely viewed as a watershed in the war — an unscripted moment that has scrambled the calculus on all sides, opened doors for negotiations once thought shut, won support from key outside actors, and made vague dreams of ending the conflict seem more tangible.

For the Trump administration, which strongly embraced the cease-fire and offered for the first time to discuss Taliban concerns about the long-term presence of foreign troops, the truce underscored a critical distinction that U.S. officials have increasingly made between the domestic Taliban conflict and the foreign-backed terrorist threat to Afghanistan and the United States…

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