A poppy field in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan April 2016
Parwiz TPX/REUTERS

A peace deal in Afghanistan may be on the horizon. The latest round of high-level negotiations between the United States and the Taliban ended last week in Doha without a formal agreement, but with cautious optimism on both sides. If the U.S. envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, gets the deal he reportedly seeks, all parties in Afghanistan will observe a general cease-fire, the United States will withdraw its forces, the Taliban and the Afghan government will open a dialogue, and the Taliban will pledge to harbor no foreign terrorist organizations on Afghan soil.

These developments are, in theory, encouraging: the United States’ longest war may finally be coming to an end. But in practice, the peace negotiations are unlikely to achieve Washington’s main national security objective in Afghanistan—preventing the formation of a terrorist safe haven—if they do not include a plan to directly address the country’s opium

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  • MATTHEW S. REID is a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps and a current Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as Deputy Commander for Task Force Southwest in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province from 2017 to 2018.
  • CYBELE C. GREENBERG is a Research Associate at the Council on Foreign Relations focused on international economics.
  • All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis in this work are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions, viewpoints, and official policies of the U.S. Department of Defense or the U.S. Marine Corps.
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