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There are reports that the United States and the Taliban may soon conclude a peace agreement. Much remains uncertain, however. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is skeptical; his fate is uncertain given the Taliban’s hostility to his government. Doubts have been compounded by a bloody campaign waged by Taliban forces as the deal has taken shape; those attacks indicate that the U.S. presence may be all that remains between the Ghani government and the democratic ideals it supports, and a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

The U.S. drove the Taliban from power after it failed to hand over Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, who was hiding in Afghanistan. The group was weakened but never exterminated. It mounted an insurgency that slowly took control of parts of the country, a process that was aided by the corruption, fecklessness and inefficiency of the various governments in Kabul.

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