On May 24, 2020, hopes for peace between the Taliban and the Afghan government were rekindled following the announcement of a three-day ceasefire between the two sides. On the same day, the government announced it was initiating the release of 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a good will gesture. The day's events have been met with support from the United States, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praising both sides for laying down their arms and pushing for peace.
The Afghan government and international community has urged the Taliban to extend the ceasefire, which is due to expire before midnight on May 26. This week's pause, which began at the start of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, is only the second such ceasefire after nearly 19-years of bloodshed.
Since the United States and Taliban signed a deal in Doha, Qatar on February 29, there has been little progress made in talks between the Taliban and Afghan Government. The agreement called for all coalition forces to withdraw within 14 months as long as security and peace requirements were met by both the Taliban and Afghan Government. It further stipulated that the Afghan government would release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban would release up to 1,000 Afghan security forces personnel.
Up to this point, however, the prisoner swap has been fraught with difficulties. President Ashraf Ghani has refused to release all the Taliban prisoners at once, while the Taliban has released about 300 Afghan security forces. Thus far, only 1,000 members of the Taliban have been freed.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.