Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 9th, 2019

Positive Signals for Resumption of Peace Talks

All three sides, the Unites States, Kabul administration, and the Taliban signal for resuming peace talks. Regional stakeholders also seek to put their weight behind the peace process, raising hopes for renewed negotiations.
China plans to host a meeting between Taliban representatives and Afghan political leaders next week, which will be the first of its kind since a July round of talks held in Qatar.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the incumbent, said he would resume talks with the Taliban leadership if he was re-elected.
Since US President Donald Trump called off the peace talks in September, just as a deal seemed imminent, the Taliban group said it was ready to resume talks from where they left off. However, Washington and Kabul do not agree with the deal, drafted between the US representatives and the Taliban. President Ghani criticized US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad for shrouding his talks with the Taliban in secrecy.
Kabul administration is unlikely to agree with the resumption of peace talks without having a seat around the negotiating table. Regional stakeholders and global powers, who urge restarting the talks, have to persuade the Taliban to hold direct talks with the Afghan government.
There are a number of controversial issues which make resuming peace talks more difficult. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that immediately upon signing the deal with the US, the Taliban had agreed to announce a ceasefire, but only against US and NATO troops. The Taliban also bargained for “Islamic Emirate”.
Nonetheless, neither are acceptable to Afghans. Kabul calls on the Taliban for declaring ceasefire to show their goodwill. Meanwhile, EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan Ambassdor Roland Kobia said that if there was an “Islamic Emirate”, it would be difficult for the EU to continue its assistance to Afghanistan.
Kabul has clear demands: The Taliban should negotiate directly with the Afghan government, they should reduce violence as a gesture of goodwill, “Islamic Emirate” is not acceptable to Afghans and must not be bargained over, the rights and freedoms of Afghan women should be safeguarded and respected as stated in the constitution, and the past achievements must not be sacrificed for the peace process. Sediq Sediqqi, the presidential spokesman, affirmed the government’s commitment to negotiating a ceasefire, ending the war, and “restoring a dignified and sustainable peace in Afghanistan”.
Article 149 states, “The principles of adherence to the tenets of the Holy religion of Islam as well as Islamic Republicanism shall not be amended.” Regarding people’s basic rights, it adds, “Amending fundamental rights of the people shall be permitted only to improve them.”
With this in mind, both “Islamic Emirate” and curtailing people’s fundamental rights are against Afghan Constitution.
The nine rounds of backdoor talks between the Taliban and US representatives raised Afghans doubt and mistrust. Speaking in the Herat Security Dialogue, an annual conference, Afghan former security advisor Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta said the peace deal was between Washington and Islamabad “to decide the fate of Afghanistan”. He stated that Afghans “don’t know what is happening or what kind of deal is taking place between the US and Pakistan”.
However, President Ghani called Pakistan’s role essential saying that “Pakistan would need to become constructive and support the peace process”.
Kabul also makes clear demands on regional and global stakeholders: They have to broker talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government and the Taliban should be pressured to reduce violence if their delegation is hosted by any countries. Afghanistan’s neighboring countries and global powers should not host Taliban delegation without achieving any results. That is, hosting Taliban without result will be bestowing legitimacy to the Taliban or crediting the terrorist group.
Khalilzad has started a fresh round of talks with European, NATO and UN allies about ending the war. He will later meet with Russian and Chinese representatives “to discuss shared interests in seeing the war in Afghanistan come to an end,” the US State Department said.
Meanwhile, Trump continued to call for the withdrawal of the estimated 14,000 American soldiers still in Afghanistan, saying they had taken over the job of policing the country, a job the government’s security forces should be doing.
To this end, all three sides, including regional and global stakeholders, seek the resumption of peace talks. But there are still some issues, as mentioned above, which hamper the process. Talks will be resumed and lead to peace if regional and global powers support the process sincerely and put pressure on the Taliban to come to the table with reasonable demands.