Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, November 16th, 2019

What would bring the US and EU Officials’ Trip to Afghanistan?

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What would bring the US and EU Officials’  Trip to Afghanistan?

In recent days, Kabul was hosting the US and EU top Officials followed with different analysis in Afghan political community. According to Afghan analysis, the chances for reviving talks between the US and Taliban are boosted with the US and EU top Officials trip to Afghanistan. In last 18 years, the EU had always a clearer position regarding peace and war of Afghanistan. They have had meaningful cooperation in regard to construction and other political affairs of the country. In line to this, the EU Envoy to Afghanistan, Roland Kobia, expressed a clear and hopeful stance in regard to resumption of peace negotiation between the US and the Taliban. Kobia said that the resumption of talks between the US and the Taliban should lead to a ceasefire and the start of intra-Afghan talks. “The EU would like to see swift resumption of the US bilateral talks with the Taliban and the start of negotiation between the government and the Taliban,” said Kobia.
He added that all the gains that Afghanistan has made in the past years should be protected. If the government was like the Islamic Emirate where these rights are not protected, it would be a very difficult for Europeans to help the reconstruction, to provide development aid, to give access to the first world market. The EU diplomat also called on the Afghan Presidential candidates to contribute in the transparency of the election process and avoid any moves that could create problems on the election results. “We also understand that the elections are always a difficult political moment and that it can create a bit of tension, a bit of difficulties—we also believe that the peace and the elections are reconcilable and they do not oppose each other by definition,” said Kobia.
The EU Envoy trip to Afghanistan was almost simultaneous with the unannounced visit of the new US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper. Seemingly, the main purpose of his unannounced visit to Kabul was to talk about the stalled peace talks and others issues related to Afghanistan. According to the Presidential Spokesman, Sediq Sediqi, President Ashraf Ghani has held a meeting with Esper where they discussed the upcoming efforts related to Afghan peace, regional issues and equipment and arming of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
The talks between Taliban and US was scuttled in early September after US President Donald Trump announced that Washington was pulling out of the talks after the Taliban claimed an attack that killed 12 people in Kabul, including an American soldier. Apparently, the Trump administration wants to insert the new clause in the mutual agreement that making the Taliban committed to ceasefire in the proposed deal.
However, previously Taliban refused to agree on ceasefire or reduce violence in Afghanistan and it was effective in the collapse of year-long painstaking talks. So, there is no certainty whether the Taliban retreat from their position or not.
Amway, the deadlock must be broken in one way or the other. Based on this, both sides should be willing to restart the negotiations although there are serious issues and challenges to overcome. The US has already released 11 Taliban detainees from Bagram prison in exchange for three Indian engineers. The likelihood of resumption of talks after US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalid’s recent meeting with Taliban leaders in Islamabad has also elevated. He had insisted that a political settlement that safeguards the US from terrorist threats, allows it to reduce the burden of war and protects two decades of progress in Afghanistan was in American national interest.
According to some analysts, the recent Islamabad meeting between the Taliban delegation and Pakistani officials was highly significant. It was the first high-profile interaction between them to put the Doha process back on track. Pakistani officials have reportedly exhorted the insurgents to agree to a ceasefire. But the main issue is there no indication from Taliban whether change their stance or not. Some observers believe that given that they have the upper hand on the battlefield, there is no incentive for the Taliban to accept a ceasefire without a deal in place. That makes the resumption of the peace process more difficult.
On the other side, being in the eve of election, the Trump administrations needs something to sell to the American public by taking credit for bringing an end to the US involvement in the nearly 18-year-old war in order to boost his re-election bid for The White House while the intensity of violence also creates a sense of urgency for peace talks. The recent several months have seen an unprecedented spike in violence throughout the country, leaving behind heavy casualties not only among the warring sides but also among the civilians. The higher the level of violence, the greater the need for peace;
The important point for Afghans is that this round of talks should focus primarily on paving the ground for intra-Afghan negotiations and not repeat the previous mistakes. This is the only way that can stop the ongoing violence and bloodshed, and allow all those who are seeking to rule the country to discuss the nature of future government and power-sharing arrangement. Therefore, all regional sides especially Afghanistan and Pakistan should support the talks to be started. Specifically Afghans should encourage the US to resume peace talks the soonest, thereby not only allowing for a responsible US troop pullout from Afghanistan but also encouraging Afghans to agree on the future of the country.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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