Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Can the Ceasefire with Taliban succeed?

Afghan government has taken many initiatives to provide an opportunity to the Taliban insurgents to join to the peace negotiation table and stop the war in Afghanistan. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a latest move on Thursday announced the first time an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban, but excluding other militant groups, such as ISIS and HN. This decision was mainly made based on the Islamic cleric’s fatwa that was declared this week.  This is for the first time that the Afghan President announces an unconditional ceasefire since he was elected in 2014. President Ghani stated that, “This ceasefire is an opportunity for Taliban to put an end to their violent campaign against the Afghan government that it is not winning them hearts and minds”.
What people and the NUG expect from the Taliban insurgent is that their guns to fallen silent over the areas they are fighting.  However, the Taliban insurgents have proven that they neither care about the Afghan government initiatives and nor to the international ones. This initiative is one of the latest in a string of failed attempts to wind down a war that has killed thousands of the civilians and have left several thousand injured. As the background of the failed ceasefires in Afghanistan show, previous ceasefires have collapsed within weeks. One of the main reasons behind, failed ceasefires in Afghanistan is neglecting the effective variables on the ceasefire:  For example, when a ceasefire is announced and the neighboring countries that finance and support the insurgent groups are neglected and have not been included in the process, either directly or indirectly, we should not expect a positive outcome of such a ceasefire.
Impact of the Ceasefires on the Conflict in Afghanistan
There are two conflicting views about the nature of ceasefires. We would elaborate a little bit both of them in the following lines.
Firs, ISIS is not included in this ceasefire. As the recent waves of attacks on different institutions and people show, ISIS has taken the responsibility of such attacks. While, ISIS has the potentials and networks in different parts of the country, even in the once peaceful areas in the North of Afghanistan, how one can expect a truce with the Taliban insurgents would benefit the nation in a large extent? However, as President Ghani has stated this ceasefire can be a big opportunity for the Taliban to show their good will to the people of Afghanistan. If the Taliban insurgents respect the ceasefire, they would be able to show the Afghan nation that they are not merely the puppets of the neighboring and other countries and they can make decisions by themselves.
Second, though, many Afghans may not consider this initiative effective, but if we analyze it from the political perspective, even if this cease-fire in Afghanistan quickly collapses — as most analysts expect it to — it could have an immense impact on the conflict in the country. Political and social science research show that cease-fires change more than just conditions on the ground: They change how a war’s participants weigh the benefits of fighting versus talking in a given context.
Based on the socio-political studies findings, cease-fires can create something like a virtuous cycle, making future parties more likely. Each one has a better chance of lasting longer, discouraging violations, isolating bad actors and building trust among adversaries. Based on these studies, this cycle is not always as visible or politically urgent as the question of who is fighting where on a particular day. But, over time, it can shift the participants’ calculus in ways that build conditions for peace.
Decades of war and conflict has made the people suspicious about any positive impacts or outcomes of ceasefires in the country. There have been numerous failed attempts by the Afghan governments during the four last decades to bring the insurgents groups to the negotiations table, but they have always failed to come to a lasting peace in the country. If this ceasefire holds where others have failed, then deeper co-operation between the NUG and the Taliban insurgents can be expected. If this happens, the ceasefire will save lives. But it may also kill the rebels’ dreams of overthrowing the Afghan government supported by the Afghan citizens and its international allies.