The Biden administration is currently evaluating the agreement struck by the U.S. State Department and the Taliban last year. The new president’s advisers will quickly learn, if they haven’t already, that there is not much to the accord. In return for America’s complete withdrawal, the Taliban agreed to empty counterterrorism assurances. There’s really nothing more to it.
President Biden has long been skeptical of the U.S. military presence in the country, and he has other priorities for his administration. Regardless, a decision point in America’s longest war is quickly approaching. Most of America’s forces have been withdrawn. Sometime in the coming weeks, Biden has to decide whether he wants to complete the exit by withdrawing the remaining 2,500 or so U.S. service members and other American personnel.
Speaking at a virtual event hosted by the United States Institute of Peace late last week, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan noted that the deal with the Taliban calls for a full U.S. withdrawal by May—meaning a decision has to be made soon. Sullivan also said the agreement “imposes a set of considerable conditions on the Taliban.” He listed three and said the administration is weighing its options while evaluating them.
Let’s briefly consider each of three conditions mentioned by Sullivan.