Trump May Have Been 'Fleeced' in Taliban Peace Deal, Senator Says After Classified Briefing

A Democratic senator has warned that President Donald Trump may have been "fleeced" in the U.S. peace deal with the Taliban, after receiving a classified briefing on the nascent agreement.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee and Foreign Relations Committee, expressed his concerns on Twitter on Monday, as U.S. forces began scaling back their presence in the country.

The U.S.-Taliban peace deal is a precursor to talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Under the terms of the agreement, all American and NATO troops could leave the country within 14 months. Initially, the U.S. has agreed to reduce its strength to 8,600 soldiers over 135 days.

But Murphy suggested it was premature to begin withdrawals and warned that the deal was too weak to hold the Taliban to account. "I have been a supporter of negotiations with the Taliban, but the more I learn, the more concerned I become that Trump got fleeced," Murphy wrote.

A key element of the deal is the Taliban commitment that they will not allow Afghanistan to be used as a safe haven for terrorist groups to plan and launch attacks against the West, as in the case of 9/11.

But Murphy said that the "security guarantees are so vague as to be effectively void. It's not clear how we will track whether they are indeed renouncing terrorist groups."

Talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government will pose many challenges. The militants have so far refused to speak with Kabul, dismissing the government as an illegitimate American puppet.

Indeed, the entire process almost collapsed soon after the U.S. deal was signed amid a dispute over freeing Taliban prisoners held by the government.

It remains unclear what role the Taliban might play in a future Afghanistan, but civil and women's rights activists have warned that Taliban influence could roll back many of the advances made since 2001.

Murphy said the U.S. deal "leaves the Afghan government out to dry by scheduling withdrawal before a Taliban/Afghan gov deal."

"Our military leverage could have been used to help the Afghans secure concessions from the Taliban - on protections for rights of women and children, for instance."

It remains unclear who will even negotiate with the Taliban, with President Ashraf Ghani's victory in the September election still being disputed by the opposition. On Monday, Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah both took swearing-in oaths to become president as Islamic State militants launched an attack nearby.

Murphy said that the U.S. negotiators' "race to get a deal (against Trump's desire to announce a unconditional withdrawal) took focus off the Afghan election crisis. Now, there are two men claiming to be running the country, a new disaster."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has acknowledged that the next stage will be "rocky and bumpy" but said the the "difficult conversation" will be between Afghans "for the first time in almost two decades."

The secretary of state also said the U.S. will "press all sides to stay focused on the goal of a peaceful, prosperous, and sovereign Afghanistan and an Afghanistan free of malign foreign interference where all voices and communities are heard and are represented."

Newsweek has contacted the White House to request comment.

Donald Trump, Taliban, Afghanistan, peace deal, fleeced
President Donald Trump is pictured at a coronavirus briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C. on March 9, 2020. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images/Getty