UNSC endorses US-Taliban deal
The UN Security Council (UNSC) has adopted a resolution to welcome the recent progress in the peace process in Afghanistan. Resolution 2513, which won the unanimous support of the 15-member council, welcomed the significant steps toward ending the war and opening the door to intra-Afghan negotiations enabled by two accords signed between the US and the Taliban and between the US and the Afghan government. The resolution on 10 March 2020 welcomed the intention of all Afghan parties to pursue the successful negotiation of an inclusive political settlement and a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire.
- It emphasizes the importance of the effective and meaningful participation of women, youth, and minorities, and affirms that any political settlement must protect the rights of all Afghans and respect the strong desire of Afghans to achieve durable peace and prosperity.
- The resolution urges the Afghan government to advance the peace process, including by participating in intra-Afghan negotiations through a diverse and inclusive negotiating team composed of Afghan political and civil society leaders, including women.
- It called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to pursue in good faith additional confidence-building measures to create conditions conducive to a swift beginning and the success of intra-Afghan negotiations and a durable peace, including additional reductions in violence to significantly reduce civilian casualties and allow for increased international support for Afghanistan prior to agreement on a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire, as well as the release of prisoners.
- It also called on all states to provide full support to promoting the successful negotiation of a comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement.
- The Security Council expresses its readiness, upon the commencement of the intra-Afghan negotiations, to consider the start of the review of the status of designations of individuals, groups, undertakings and entities on the sanctions list against the Taliban.
- It welcomes the efforts of regional cooperation for regional development, and stresses the importance of international and regional economic cooperation for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
- TROOPS WITHDRAWAL: The US will draw down to 8,600 troops in 135 days and the NATO or coalition troop numbers will also be brought down, proportionately and simultaneously. And all troops will be out within 14 months — “all” would include “non-diplomatic civilian personnel” (could be interpreted to mean “intelligence” personnel).
- TALIBAN COMMITMENT: The main counter-terrorism commitment by the Taliban is that “Taliban will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies”. While Miller said the reference to al-Qaeda is important, the pact is silent on other terrorist groups — such as anti-India groups Lashkar-e-Toiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed. Again, India, not being an US ally, is not covered under this pact.
- SANCTIONS REMOVAL: UN sanctions on Taliban leaders to be removed by three months (by May 29) and US sanctions by August 27. The sanctions will be out before much progress is expected in the intra-Afghan dialogue.
- PRISONER RELEASE: Miller identified it as a “possible trouble spot” because the US-Taliban agreement and the joint declaration differ, and it is not clear whether the Ashraf Ghani-led government is on board with this “pretty big up-front concession to Taliban”.