Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Lack of Offensive War Strategy as the Main Cause of Taliban Advance

According to a commentary published on the International Crisis Group on 28 December 2018, the world will witness 10 major conflicts. The main cause of these conflicts has been cited as U.S. leadership of the international order fading. As a result more countries are seeking to bolster their influence by meddling in foreign conflicts. In this new era of limit testing, Crisis Group’s President Robert Malley has listed the Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2019. And Afghan conflict is the second conflict mentioned in the list.
According to this report Afghanistan suffered its deadliest fighting. In 2018, by one tally, the war has killed more than 40,000 combatants and civilians. Trump’s reported decision in mid-December that half of U.S. forces in Afghanistan would leave brought further unease. In principle, Washington’s signal that it is ready to pull out could advance diplomatic efforts to end the war by focusing belligerents’ and regional actors’ minds. But the ad hoc nature of the decision—seemingly made without looping in top officials—and the specter it raises of the U.S. cutting and running could bode badly for the coming year.
The warm welcome of the Taliban of the US Withdrawal is a cut crystal of this argument; at the same time they have fostered their regional visits and their visit from Iran is the latest move of the terrorist group to further marginalize the Afghan government.
In 2018, the war exacted a higher toll than at any time since the Taliban were ousted from Kabul more than seventeen years ago. A three-day ceasefire in June, which the Taliban and the government enforced and which prompted joyous celebration by fighters and civilians alike, offered a short respite, though fighting resumed immediately afterwards. Taliban fighters now effectively control perhaps half the country, cutting off transport routes and laying siege to cities and towns. A sharp uptick in U.S. airstrikes has not curbed their momentum.
The advance of the Taliban does not mean they are either strong or has the upper hand in the war; the main cause of the advancement of the group has been lack of an offensive War Strategy against the Taliban. As we well remember, Hamid Karzai the Ex Afghan President kept calling them as his “brothers”. And this strategy not only did not encourage the group to join to the Afghan Peace Process, but further emboldened them in the war fields and demotivated the Afghan National Security Forces and the ordinary people. The same strategy was pursed at the beginning of the NUG as well. And just recently, the Afghan government decided to change its war policy and nominated some anti-Taliban powerful figures as acting Ministers of MoIA and MoD.
In September, Washington appointed the veteran diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad as an envoy for peace talks – a welcome sign that it was prioritizing negotiations to end the war. Taliban leaders appear to be taking the talks seriously, though the process is stuck over their continued insistence that the U.S. commit to a timeline for full withdrawal of international forces as a precondition for a wider peace process involving other Afghan factions, a sequence that would be a win for the Taliban while saddling other Afghans with uncertainty.
As it is clear amending the Afghan Constitution is one the conditions of the Taliban for reaching a peace deal. The current constitution outlines a tolerant, democratic Islamic state under a strong presidency, a two-chamber parliament and an independent judiciary. The text also declares men and women equal before the law — a victory for human rights advocates. Afghans have praised the new constitution, which also recognizes minority languages while giving few powers to provincial authorities, as a chance to pull the country together after nearly half of a century of violence. In a nutshell, this new constitution is the result of many decades of Afghan sacrifices for democracy and living a free life. As it is expected, the Taliban may disagree with many of the provisions of this constitution that ties all the Afghan ethnic and religious groups together. And if clear red lines of negotiations on the constitutions is not identified, and if for any reasons, the constitution is amended according to the will of the Taliban, we will only watch a new round of civil war in the country.
In short, as the era of uncontested U.S. primacy fades, the international order has been thrown into turmoil. Unfortunately, instruments of collective action, such as the UN Security Council, are paralyzed; those of collective accountability, including the International Criminal Court, are ignored and disparaged. As a result, as the list of illustrates, that road will be bumpy, and it will be perilous. However, Afghan government its allies can manage the conflict and bring the terrorist groups including the Taliban to the negotiation table if they have an offensive war strategy and active diplomacy for the Afghan Peace Process.