Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, May 29th, 2020

The Incomplete Triangle of Peace in Afghanistan

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The Incomplete  Triangle of Peace in Afghanistan

The issue of Afghan peace has been trilateral with the involvement of three parties including the United States, the Afghan government, and the Taliban. The US appears to have reached to the conclusion that the war and its military presence should come to an end in Afghanistan for several reasons. The war in Afghanistan has been counted as the US longest war and cost trillions of dollars for the American government and people on year-to-year basis. The approach of the US presidential elections was also effective for Trump administration to hurry for the materialization of peace in the country.
There are also several reasons for the Taliban to come to the negotiating table. Despite the fact that the Taliban group has control over parts of the Afghan territory and threaten many provinces, hampering the Afghan government to have full control on them, it is still recognized as a terrorist group at international level. Meanwhile, Afghans also view the Taliban as a group, which is seeking power at the cost of anything. Based on Afghans’ notion, the group is involved in planting improvised explosive device, suicide attacks, murdering and slaughtering people to fight against Afghan state and nation. Being pressured by its supporters, the Taliban group may conclude that peace will be conducive to entering power in Afghanistan.
Based on the abovementioned reasons, the two sides came close and signed a peace agreement on late February. The third side of this trilateral group is embroiled in challenges and yet to make a complete circle through reaching the two said sides. Marginalization of the Afghan government in the talks between the US and the Taliban has been the main problem. The US and Taliban representatives held 10 rounds of meeting to discuss peace but Kabul was not at the table. Subsequently, the preconditions included in the US-Taliban peace agreement would have an adverse effect on the Afghan government. The precondition set to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners before the start of intra-Afghan dialogue seems like a gamble rather than a precondition for reaching peace.
However, it is not all. The Afghan government was preparing to conduct presidential election when the US and Taliban representatives were negotiating. Many political factions showed tendency in the establishment of parallel government rather than having elections held. Moreover, many other political groups prioritized the start of peace talks with the Taliban before presidential elections. Therefore, a sense of doubt and hesitation continued regarding the elections to the last minute. Elections and ensuing tensions put Afghanistan in the quagmire of further challenges, compounded by the election results, especially when President Ashraf Ghani’s main rival Abdullah Abdullah held an oath-taking ceremony, simultaneously with Ghani, declaring a parallel government.
As of now, few days have been passed the date slated for the start of intra-Afghan dialogue, the Afghan government has yet to overcome its internal political challenges. So far, the government has not completed or declared the list to form a negotiating team to talk with the Taliban. On the other hand, the government’s political opponents reiterate holding separate negotiations with the Taliban. Lack of harmony within the Afghan government and the continuation of political tension between political factions and groups has put Afghanistan in a state of confusion. That is to say, political tensions between President and his political rivals appear to be the most challenging drawback to the intra-Afghan dialogue. The emerging polarization will provide the opportunity for the Taliban to put the strongest political pressure on the Afghan government. The Taliban group is seeking to portray to the public that the war of power in Afghanistan exist among officials and it works for the betterment of the Afghan nation in a united and harmonious way. Portrayal of such an image to the public is likely to put the legitimacy of the Afghan government under question at domestic and international level.
Negotiations with the Taliban will be proved meaningless and unproductive unless the ongoing political tensions are resolved. Any kinds of differences over the formation of negotiating team will undermine the government’s stance. The Taliban proved how they could capitalize on political tensions and consolidate their legitimacy through meeting Afghan political leaders outside Afghanistan and use them for their own publicity. Although Afghan political leaders are aware of the fact that holding separate negotiations with the Taliban is neither possible nor fruitful, they still resort to it.

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