Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Why Afghan Peace Negotiations fail

It is a critical question that almost everyone wants to why do negotiations fail? Every conflict has its own drivers; they can be ethnic, religious, race, language, regional, cross regional and even international drivers. Whether the negotiation is about a multimillion dollar contract or peace talks of a nation, in most cases, they fail for the same reason: In most cases the cause failure is not the other part or major influences outside the negotiation room. We will discuss some of them here.
Lack of true understanding of other party: True peace negotiation requires discovering, concerns, needs, constraints, challenges, constituencies and fears of the other party. In other words, it calls to initiate a peace process with the mindset to have and end result that both parties feel they have win equally. Lack of a strategic vision on why they are negotiating in the first place; one of the main problems of the peace negotiations, especially in Afghanistan, is treating the peace negotiations as short term issue with a short term gain centered mainly on political gains. For example, the governments may initiate a peace negotiation amid the elections. Such peace talks either fail if the government pursues a peace negotiation with outstanding achievements, or the government compromises. In the latter case, it is the insurgent group that is the real winner of the game and it will just add up on the same practice and even may set risky preconditions for the next peace negotiations. Indeed, the outcome of such approach is nothing but creating a bad culture for peace talks focused on winning or losing of one of the peace negations parties.
Lack of appropriate decision-making process for a particular negotiation is one of the failures that almost all peace negotiations have faced it. Due to this, we continuously hear that the Taliban say they want to negotiate with the US or the Afghan Government say in some cases that for reaching a durable peace we shall negotiate with Pakistan or Pakistan under pressure to bring the Taliban to negotiation table. Both scenarios show the same thing; Lack of identifying the sole decision maker.
Having no clear picture regarding who should and should not be involved in a particular peace negotiation. It is one of the main causes of continuation of conflict in Afghanistan; The Taliban group was not present in the Bon Conference and the Afghan interim government in the absence of the Taliban. The Afghan leaders did not accept to include the Taliban in the negotiations while they are making any efforts to negotiate with them after about 4 decades of insurgency in the country. And, if the Taliban group was involved in the peace negotiation in the Bon Conference, they may had accepted the offer because they just were defeated by the international community under the leadership of the United States of America.
Failure to give an opportunity to the other party sees something important to its interests, which have been neglected before. It is clearly evident in the Afghan Conflict, especially when Mujahidin captured Kabul. The real reason behind the bloody civil wars in 1990s in Afghanistan in general and in Kabul in specific was neglecting the interests of other party by the government. The Afghan government at that time did not have a political will to observe the demands of the other party, maybe due to lack of having a clear picture in terms of including all sides in the government or due to lack of strategic decision making ability and pressures of the government alliance against the other parties who were just sidelined by the government.
The international and the Afghan national peace negotiations show that there are certain factors that cause the peace negotiations fail. These include lack of true understanding of other party, Lack of a strategic vision on why they are negotiating in the first place, Lack of appropriate decision-making process for a particular negotiation, Ambiguity in having a clear picture regarding who should and should not be involved in a particular peace negotiation and Failure to give an opportunity to the other party sees something important to its interests. Based on this, the Afghan government shall build on the International and national peace negotiations and consider all aspects of the Afghan prolong conflict in the peace negotiations to end the conflict and reach a sustainable peace in the country.