On May 17, 2020, Ghani signed a power-sharing agreement with his rival Abdullah Abdullah. The agreement ended the long-running dispute over the outcome of Afghanistan`s 2019 presidential elections and put Abdullah in charge of peace negotiations.  A final peace agreement and the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces remain important priorities. The United States has deployed combat troops to Afghanistan for nearly two decades and has urgent interests in Afghanistan and abroad – including the fight and recovery of COVID-19 and competition from major powers like Russia and China. But the Americans must be aware that peace negotiations are likely to be long and difficult. As tempting as it is to withdraw U.S. forces without agreement, it would be a mistake, especially if it is the Taliban`s fault. Withdrawing the United States from Afghanistan without a peace agreement would significantly increase the level of violence in Afghanistan, risk a growing regional war, provoke a humanitarian crisis, allow an Islamist extremist group to invade Kabul, and raise serious questions among allies about the reliability of the United States. Third, a peace process that has collapsed or stopped and a nascent war could increase regional instability, with India, Pakistan, Iran and Russia supporting a mix of government forces, sub-state militias and insurgent groups.
Some of these countries, such as Iran and Russia, are major competitors of the United States. Strengthening Taliban control over Afghanistan and intensifying the activities of militant groups could also increase regional tensions between Nuclear power India and Pakistan. Tensions between the two sides have recently escalated, in part following the Indian government`s 2019 decision to lift the special status protected by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution (which has brought some autonomy to the region), in accordance with Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and to impose, at least temporarily, strict security measures in the Kashmir Valley. “These messages from Washington help the Taliban take them for the winners,” Fawzia Koofi, a member of the government`s negotiating team, told CBS News. “The Taliban believe that if they don`t agree on a peaceful solution, they will win by war as soon as American troops withdraw completely from Afghanistan.” One way to do this would be to prevent negotiating teams from agreeing on issues such as political power-sharing agreements (including national, provincial or regional), the Afghan constitution, the role of religion, women`s rights, persistent violence, the return of prisoners and upcoming elections.