KABUL — Cellphone street vendor Fazluddin doesn't much care that presidents, diplomats and Taliban commanders are squabbling over the U.S.'s withdrawal from his country after some 18 years.
It's not that he wants more war — deadly violence has shaken Afghanistan each of his 38 years — he just doesn't think that talking will make a difference.
"I’m very afraid it is going to get me one day," said Fazluddin, who like many Afghans goes by one name. “I’m not very optimistic because there is fighting all over the country.”
Since 2001, when U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban government after it harbored 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, tens of thousands of civilians and security personnel, as well as more than 2,400 Americans, have been killed in Afghanistan.
Now, despite almost two decades of fighting, the Taliban control or hold sway in about half of the country.
There are currently about 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, advising Afghan forces and carrying out counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda and ISIS militants.
But even if there is eventually a deal between the U.S. and the Taliban — which ruled between 1996 and 2001 — many Afghans are bracing themselves for more war.
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One overriding worry is that once the U.S. leaves the Taliban will look to conquer parts of Afghanistan it does not control.
“The Taliban demanded all foreign forces should leave the country, maybe the Taliban is planning to attack the cities after the foreign forces withdraw,” said Tamanna Ahmadi, 20, who works in marketing.
Even this week as diplomatic negotiations hit a roadblock, the Taliban stepped up attacks in the country — killing both security forces and civilians.
The deadly blasts included a suicide bombing in Kabul on Monday and another Thursday that killed dozens, including a U.S. service member. Later Thursday, another suicide attack in neighboring Logar province killed four civilians, a spokesperson for the province said.
The attacks came as Amnesty International reported Thursday that Abdul Samad Amiri, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission’s acting director in Ghor province, was kidnapped and killed by the group.
In return for U.S. troops withdrawing, the proposed deal to end America's longest war would see the Taliban would agree to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government and pledge not to allow areas under their control to be used as a launching pad for terrorists.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday that Washington would not accept just any deal.
"We will make sure we have a good deal, a good enough deal that guarantees at least the security of countries going forward and a brighter path ahead for the Afghan people," Esper said during a press conference in Paris.