Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Prospects For Afghan Peace Deal With Taliban Dim, But Not Dead

The September 2011 assassination of High Peace Council Chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani dealt a major blow to the process of setting up talks with moderate Taliban leaders..
The September 2011 assassination of High Peace Council Chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani dealt a major blow to the process of setting up talks with moderate Taliban leaders..
By Abubakar Siddique
Grand hopes for a comprehensive peace settlement with the Taliban in Afghanistan have not died, but they have dimmed considerably.

The goal today, according to experts, is much narrower in scope -- keep lines of communication open for now, with an eye toward helping the Afghan government work out a deal with the Taliban after foreign troops exit the country.

Kabul is primarily concentrating on preparing the ground for 2014, says Marvin Weinbaum, a former intelligence analyst with the U.S. State Department, when a presidential election is expected to be held and NATO forces are to hand over security operations to the Afghan government.

Based on his impressions during recent travels to Afghanistan, Weinbaum says that Afghan and Western officials view a political settlement with the Taliban as something that is years down the road.

"If the [Afghan] election leaves us with a president who is at least acceptable to the major factions and then [the Afghan authorities] are able to sustain the country until 2017 or so, then that represents the best hope there is for a political solution," Weinbaum says.

Contacts and discussions with the Taliban are now focused on setting up future negotiations, says Weinbaum, a regional specialist at Washington's Middle East Institute think tank.

"What is absent here is any discussion about the substance. All of this discussion now which is going on is all facilitation. How can we bring the two together?" Weinbaum says. "And there is no attention being given to whether there are the ingredients for reaching any kind of mutual accommodation over the next two years."

Does The Taliban Want To Talk?

The idea of a political reconciliation with the Taliban gained traction soon after U.S. President Barack Obama announced a major surge of troops in 2009. In 2010, international donors pledged some $140 million to help reintegrate rebel foot soldiers into society. Late that year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai appointed dozens of notable Afghans to a High Peace Council to entice more moderate Taliban leaders to drop their weapons and work with the government.

The next year saw a lot of behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity to get the Taliban on board. Some former Taliban leaders were removed from the UN sanctions list and the insurgents were encouraged to establish a contact office in the Middle East. But the September 2011 assassination of High Peace Council Chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani dealt a blow to the process.

Dawood Muradian, head of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, says that the Taliban is clearly on the wane.Dawood Muradian, head of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, says that the Taliban is clearly on the wane.
Dawood Muradian, head of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, says that the Taliban is clearly on the wane.
Dawood Muradian, head of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, says that the Taliban is clearly on the wane.
Hopes were revived when the Taliban opened a political office in Qatar in January. However, the group subsequently announced in May that it was suspending talks with Washington. The Taliban accused Washington of changing its position and failing to swap five Taliban Guantanamo inmates in exchange for the only U.S. soldier the group holds.

According to Michael Semple, a former UN and EU diplomat, the Taliban is questioning the benefits of negotiations. Based on his interviews with current and former Taliban leaders, Semple says that hard-liners who want to fight on appear to be winning out over those who favor a peace settlement.

"Some of them clearly have argued that if they fight on, they will be able to see the Americans out of the country; they will find themselves in a militarily strengthened position in 2014; and they will be in a position to make a bid for power," Semple says. "Those in the movement who believe that they are going to gain a military advantage, they have the upper hand."

Dawood Muradian, head of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies in Kabul, says that the Taliban is clearly on the wane, but there will be no room for a peace deal until it accepts the Afghan Constitution.

"The Afghan government and the Afghan political class will continue to be embracing, to be inviting anyone who wants to join the political process," Muradian says, pointing to a "cautious optimism that we have entered a post-Taliban era. The Taliban no longer present a strategic threat to Afghanistan. The Taliban have been defeated politically, morally, and also in many aspects, they have been defeated militarily."

Francesc Vendrell, former representative for the EU and UN in Afghanistan, notes that a third party could play a major role in a peace deal being struck between the Taliban and the Afghan government. But the United States, which had assumed the role, will be challenged by Kabul's insistence on leading the peace process and also by the influence of regional powers such as Iran and Pakistan.

"Without the assistance of a facilitator or mediator, its hard to see [this process taking shape] -- it might take longer. Or, you would need a very active [direct] negotiations process," Vendrell says.
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Comment Sorting
by: Jack from: US
October 25, 2012 14:07
as I predicted, victorious US government will be begging Taliban for peace. And watch the state-controlled media in US and its NATO minions. They already started promoting Taliban as "moderate Islamic movement", as a precursor to an ultimate victory for US and its NATO minions in Afghanistan. Just like they had it in Iraq

by: Aftab Kazi from: Washington DC
October 26, 2012 02:03
Afghanistan is becoming an increasingly complex problem. I have given up on the experts opinions, because everything they predicted or commented upon in the past never materialized, only helped them to improve personal careers. As I can see through, the situation after 2014 will be more complex, unless Afghanistan's neighbors under the Six plus two peace formula are involved. If Taliba are likely to listen to and oblige anyone, those will be immediate neighbors. No one is certain, what the situation might be before and after 2014. Should the foreign troops leave Afghanistan, perhaps SCO will be playing a major role to stabilize Afghanistan. Powerpolitiking on our side hasn't worked and has limitations. I wish, the then advisors on Afghanistan had realized that if regional instability starts in those regions, it can take approximately 60 to 70 years, before the situation gets normalized. Expert opinions, both in the West and Afghanistan have lost their utility.

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
October 26, 2012 02:44
The people in Pakistan have begun demanding action against the taliban. The only peace they will want is stopping their annihilation. They might get some token appointments in the Afghan gonernment, but they will cease to exist as a viable political or military force.

by: William from: Aragon
October 28, 2012 22:57
The Taliban's position has remained unchanged for the last decade for those who have had the wisdom to listened - when the last foreign invader has left Afghan soil, then they will be willing to sit down and talk. There has never been "secret talks" with the Taliban, just desperate announcements made by US interests to keep the US population calm while it retreats from this tortured country. These have always been denounced by Taliban officials, and Mullah Omar will emerge in the end as the only party who has not been untruthful.

by: Mosaub Hamedy from: Afghanistan-Kabul
November 05, 2012 10:04
As Afghan,who tangable cope with any event inside my country; there is no insurgent under the name of Taleban or Haqani Group in Afghanistan.Although there are many countries which directly or indirectly intervene.For your surprise, believe me and don't judge me naive, courtries which come to bring and keep peace in our country, they themselves inflam war and instability.Don't take it that Pakistan or Iran isn't has any rule in current situation. They both have a vital role in worsening or bettering the future of Aghanistan.
Recently, I have been to Herat in south west of Afghanistan.Going Herat from Kabul by car,you have to cross so many unstable,wartorn provinces like Wardak,Gazni,Zabul,Kandahar,Helmand,Fara..etc. In the way toward Herat I face with fantastic and amusing fact that is not normal for me, National Army and Police of Afghanistan are very afraid as much as you can not directly see toward them but inversly NATO troops don't care about passing or going near to them.......

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