A peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban, signed in Qatar on Saturday, takes the U.S. one step closer to ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan. In a statement released by the White House on Friday, Trump said that the treaty would ensure “a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home,” if the Taliban and Afghanistan live up to terms of the agreement. One main tenet of the deal is a promise by the Taliban not to let extremists use the country as a staging ground for attacks against the U.S. or its allies. In turn, the agreement allows for a major withdrawal of U.S. troops, beginning with a rollout of 8,600 from about 13,000. A complete pullout, however, will depend on the Taliban meeting ongoing commitments to prevent terrorism.
While the accord could bring the U.S. closer to an end to a conflict that has killed thousands and cost $750 billion, many U.S. officials are skeptical it will succeed. It’s also not the first time President Trump has touted such hope. Last September, he called off peace talks after the Taliban claimed responsibility for a series of attacks. However, he’s made it a central campaign promise to bring troops home from “endless wars.” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is reportedly among those skeptical of the deal, attended the ceremony in Qatar on Saturday but pointedly didn’t sign it. Instead, he left that to U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.