AFGHANISTAN AND optimism do not tend to go hand in hand, so the mood of quiet anticipation around the country in recent days has been striking. Afgh
AFGHANISTAN AND optimism do not tend to go hand in hand, so the mood of quiet anticipation around the country in recent days has been striking. Afghans hope that America and the insurgents of the Taliban, who have been fighting one another for more than 18 years, will sign a peace deal on February 29th. That, in turn, hinges on whether the week-long “reduction in violence” that the two sides have promised is maintained until then. Even if the agreement is indeed signed as planned, however, peace remains a long way off.
The partial truce began on February 22nd, the product of more than 18 months of negotiations between the Taliban and America in Qatar. The two sides did not make public exactly how peaceful they expected one another to be, and America and its allies in NATO have not revealed their count of violent incidents. Afghan news reports say the Taliban are expected to spare towns and cities, as well as military bases and highways. The Taliban leadership told its fighters to “remain defensively alert” but “strictly refrain from entering enemy territory”. Afghan and American forces, for their part, said they would shoot only in self-defence, although they also vowed to continue fighting the Afghan wing of Islamic State.
Both sides seem to be sticking to these terms. According to the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a research group, a typical February in recent years has…