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Opinion
Eli Lake

Why the Taliban Is Celebrating Trump’s Peace Plan

The agreement does not require the terrorist group to recognize Afghanistan’s legitimately elected government.

The Taliban are celebrating, too.

The Taliban are celebrating, too.

Photographer: NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP
Corrected

On the eve of today’s ceremony to sign an agreement with the U.S. to begin peace negotiations, the Taliban declared it had already won. “This is a day of victory,” said Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, a Taliban negotiator. “Victory has come with the help of God.”

In one sense, this crowing seems premature. While it’s true that the U.S. intends to reduce its troop presence from more than 12,000 to 8,600, further withdrawals are conditioned on the Taliban adhering to its commitments to reduce violence and sever ties with al Qaeda. As Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in Kabul on Saturday, the U.S. “would not hesitate to nullify the agreement” if the Taliban reneges on its commitments.