(The Washington Post): On Saturday, a holiday commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, people here awaited the announcement of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban on the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Skepticism here about what comes next pales in comparison with the certainty that continued war will fail. This agreement can start a process that is the best chance to end Afghanistan’s 40-year war. It meets the core demands of the original antagonists of that war’s latest stage: the withdrawal of U.S. troops for the Taliban and guarantees against harboring terrorists for the United States. Next would come negotiations between the supporters of the Afghan Islamic republic and the Taliban on conditions to end their war, even as the battle against global terrorists continues. The agreement provides a timetable for troop withdrawal, counterterrorism guarantees, a path to a cease-fire and a process for political settlement. Implementation would also require dismantling Taliban infrastructure in neighboring Pakistan and assurances by external powers that none will use Afghanistan against others. The United States and supporters of Afghanistan’s Islamic republic fear that the Taliban may exploit a troop withdrawal to seek a military victory, while the Taliban fears that its concessions may demoralize its fighters and enable the United States to postpone troop withdrawal. The agreement overcomes mistrust by sequencing the components and stating that all are interdependent. As each measure is implemented, the parties will monitor compliance before taking the next step. Upon announcement of the agreement, both sides will commit to a nationwide “reduction in violence” for seven days. The Taliban has made an impressive offer of significant and lasting reductions in violence nationwide that cover both Afghan and U.S.-coalition forces. The United States would reciprocate with a halt of offensive operations.