On February 29th, President Trump announced a historic peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The deal came after nearly two decades of American presence in the region. The provisional agreement hinges on three major points: complete withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from the region; open talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban; and a pledge from the Taliban that they would prevent al-Qaeda from operating within regions that they controlled.
The agreement also called for the U.S. to close five major military bases within 135 days, and to commit to ending economic sanctions against the Taliban by the end of August. Additionally, according to the agreement, the Afghan government has to release 5,000 Taliban fighters currently incarcerated in Afghan jails.
While the peace talks struggle to find their footing, recent violence across much of the country suggests that Afghanistan remains precariously poised to slide into the hands of ISIS.
The Islamic State – Khorasan
IS-K (the Islamic State of Khorasan) is an ISIS faction whose purpose is to gain ground in Afghanistan to destabilize the Afghan government, erode trust in democracy, and sow sectarianism and instability across the region. Over the past few years, IS-K has cemented a foothold in the region by exploiting the porous borders with Pakistan and Tajikistan. It has siphoned off fighters, arms, and resources from the Taliban and the Afghan government forces alike.