Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

Turkey Summit: Will It Broker a Ceasefire?

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Turkey Summit: Will It Broker a Ceasefire?

Turkey summit is scheduled to be held in April in Istanbul. The summit will be held based on the suggestion of Afghan officials, the Taliban and the US.
Although, many analysts consider the meeting as an alternative to the Qatar process, the Turkish officials reject the idea saying it is a complement to that.
Afghanistan and Turkey has enjoyed a one century good relations. This enables Turkey to play a unique role in the Afghan peace process as both the Afghan government and to some extent Taliban trust Turkey as a mediator. Furthermore, appointing a special envoy for Afghanistan by Turkey, to mediate in the process to some extent will close the connection gap between the Afghan government and Taliban.  In addition to this, Turkey is a member of the NATO.
However, it enjoys good relations with China, Russia and Iran that play a critical role in the peace talks while they have volatile relations with some Western countries and NATO. 
After 2001, Turkey has contributed to international efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, assumed the leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) under NATO by deploying thousands of troops, provided training for the Afghan National Army and Afghanistan’s civilian police force, and established ties with several Afghan factions.
Afghan Government Peace Road Map for Turkey Summit
Afghan government is going to participate in the summit with full readiness and a comprehensive plan. The plan includes transfer of power through elections. Further, this roadmap is not to accept or reject the plans of others. But it has been developed to ensure tangible achievements in the context of preserving 19 years’ democratic achievements of the country. Indeed, peace is something that all Afghans want it because they are tired of more than four decades of war. As a result, it is expected to utilize this opportunity in the best way to push accelerate the settlement of issues.
No one expects a final agreement because it is natural to take time considering the wide range of issues and deep difference Between the Afghan government and Taliban. At the same time, people hope the participants agree on few principles. The main test for success or failure of Istanbul Summit is reaching or not reaching to an agreement on a ceasefire.
Because it shows whether the conference has gone beyond the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha last year or not.
Why a mechanism is needed to go beyond the US-Taliban agreement
According to this agreement the US must withdraw its troops in May 2021 from Afghanistan.
And Taliban must stand against global terrorism but the reports of intelligence services show Taliban have maintained their ties with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
If the US withdraws its troops according to the agreement, Taliban may retake power in the country.
This will lead to reemergence of terrorists’ safe haven in Afghanistan. If the US pursues a hasty withdrawal it will not only make the US to lose its global credibility but it will be forced to send its troops once more to Afghanistan to fight against the terrorist groups as it happened in Iraq. Therfore, it is necessary the US and NATO should have a responsible withdrawal procedure. There shall be concessions from both sides in the peace talks. So far, Afghan government has taken big steps tward trust building and putting an end to the conflict while Taliban have increased the violence more than 50 percent after the US-Taliban agreement.
As a result the US should not end its support to Afghan national security. The key point is that Taliban may only keep Al-Qaeda under control, but it is the ANSF who will help the US and Global counterterrorism interests.
The Intra-Afghan talks in Doha have not been successful; these talks did not enable the two sides to reach to an agreement on some basic issues. As a result, other regional powers are taking efforts to make peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The final statement of Moscow conference saying they do not accept the return of the Emirat and calling on the Taliban not to pursue a spring offensive was main achievements of the conference but it did not have a tangible achievement.
In a nutshell, Istanbul Summit is a good opportunity for both sides to come to agreement on some basic principles. Afghan government peace proposal has the potentials to offer a mechanism for sharing the power via elections. However, if Taliban continue the violence in the battle fields in order to make the government and Afghan people surrender, they will be totally wrong; Because Afghan government and people want a dignified peace to preserve their democratic achievements.
A responsible US and NATO forces withdrawal will ensure preventing another 911 and the US credibility.
Therfore, in peace efforts in Doha, Moscow, Istanbul and any other place, these issues shall be well thought in order to reach to a sustainable peace agreement.

Sakhi Rezaie is the permanent writer of the Daily OutlookAfghanistan. He can be reached at sakhi2007@gmail.com

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