Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Ifs and Buts over Russia’s peace Talks on Afghanistan

Last week, Moscow called for the second phase meeting of 12 nations and Taliban to push forward the process of national reconciliation for 17-year war. The twelve nations were Consist of US, Afghanistan, Russia, Pakistan, China, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. According to reports from the ToloNews, Taliban has already confirmed to attend the meeting in Moscow but both Kabul and Washington have refused to participate in the meetings. On the other hand, Russian Foreign Ministry said that the conference scheduled for September 4’will take place, even if the Kabul representatives do not attend’. The first meeting of the Moscow Format was held on April 14 last year, with the participation of representatives of Ashraf Ghani’s executive, but without promising results.
Refusing to participate in the meeting, officials from ministry of foreign affairs said, “any peace process must be carried out under the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.” They added, these initiatives will not work and nothing will be achieved until the nation considered and accepted as the main actor,’. “The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan cannot attend such a meeting when the Taliban do not have a commitment for peace negotiations,” Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Nasir Andisha said in a statement Friday. He said the Afghan insurgents have “disrespected internationally sanctioned principles and rejected the message of peace and direct negotiations” with Kabul. Thus, the State Department spokesman confirmed that the United States would not take part in the meeting scheduled for September 4, saying the talks were “unlikely to yield any progress toward” a peace.
The Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said Thursday that a Taliban delegation would attend the Moscow meeting and discuss the group’s position. “We do not know why Kabul and American are not taking part,” he said.  For the Taliban, it might seem reasonable to engage with a variety of regional governments in an effort to resolve the Afghan conflict, since numerous efforts to begin domestic peace negotiations have failed in recent years. “Kabul and U.S. refusal to attend the Moscow meeting has no importance to us. We will attend,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The Associated Press.
The Taliban has always insisted that they want to negotiate with the United States, while Washington has maintained that only Afghans can be involved. Lately, though, U.S. officials have indicated they would be willing to participate in such talks. So, it seems that the Taliban would be in dilemma between two competing concerns. The June cease-fire made clear a nationwide yearning for peace and exposed insurgent fighters to fellow Muslim civilians who begged them to end the war. That apparently disturbed hard-line Taliban leaders and commanders, who reportedly worry that their troops could lose the will to fight.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has criticized Washington’s refusal to send delegates to Moscow-hosted peace talks on Afghanistan after Interfax quoted a U.S. State Department spokesperson as saying the United States would not take part in the September 4 meeting. A statement from the Russian ministry on August 22 said Washington’s “refusal to attend the Moscow meeting on Afghanistan show that Washington has no interest in launching a peace process in Afghanistan.” “We have learned with regret from the United States Department of State’s statement that the Americans will not take part in the Moscow” meeting, the ministry said. with regret from the United States Department of State’s statement that the Americans will not take part in the Moscow” meeting, the ministry said. “Admittedly, this step does not cause great surprise.”
“The U.S. has tried to bring Afghanistan to peace on its own, and it didn’t work either,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters Thursday in Moscow. “Therefore the international community now has to take care of this matter collectively, because the U.S. actions [are not] improving stability in the region in this situation.” Russian officials also expressed disappointment that the Taliban did not accept Ghani’s offer of a second truce after a successful three-day cease-fire in June that brought Taliban fighters into peaceful contact with Afghan civilians and security forces. The insurgents did offer to release several hundred prisoners but never responded directly to Ghani’s proposal of a three-month truce.
On the other hand, Russia was recurrently accused for providing support to the Taliban as a counterweight to the Islamic State, and Afghan officials have voiced concern that the Moscow conference would serve to further cement the Kremlin’s ties with the Taliban rather than prodding the insurgents to settle the Afghan conflict. Russian officials have always denied having any motives or role in abetting the Taliban. Recently Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the national security adviser, reportedly told Alexander Mantytski, Russia’s ambassador, that Kabul appreciated Moscow’s support for the peace process and called upon it “to put pressure on the Taliban to begin negotiations with the Afghan government”, the Afghan official’s office said earlier. Mantytski said Moscow was ready to help Afghanistan make “the peace process a success”, Atmar’s office said but did not clarify how it could achieve that.
The Russian Federation and US are undoubtedly powerful states and influential in the Afghan political equations. They can play a positive role in the peace process in Afghanistan and should avoid any gambling reactions which may lead to creating enemies for the country. We have more foes than friends at the regional and international level, and this is the government’s job to maintain its friends and make more ones to overcome the problems made by the rivals. Russia is no more the Soviet Union that occupied Afghanistan and not probable to remain neutral about issues happening in its neighboring. So, if we fail to balance our relationships between the rival powers, we may experience farther unpleasant consequences.