Negotiations with Taliban have entered a new phase; even the United States has shifted its war strategy in terms of approaching Taliban and has started direct talks and negotiations with the with the insurgent group. Indeed, there are many other players who do not want to be kept out of the scene of the negotiations with the Taliban including Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Iran and many other regional and beyond regional players. What makes different players to be enthusiastic to the peace process in Afghanistan is its geopolitical position in the region. The latest development in this regard is Russian Sponsored Peace talks in Moscow that Taliban and 12 countries have accepted to take part in the summit. The peace talks was scheduled on 4 September, but was postponed based on the request of Kabul on the grounds that peace talks with the insurgent group must be led by Afghanistan. As a result Afghanistan will participate in the talks but the United States has already declined to take part in the summit.
The Significance of Moscow Peace talks
One of the main aspects of Moscow Peace Talks with the Taliban is that different countries that are mindful of the importance of diplomatic solution to the Afghan problem are present in the summit. Considering the complicated nature of insecurity in Afghanistan, more representation from other countries is needed to find a consolidated solution to the prolong conflict in the country. And Moscow Peace talks with Taliban provides the opportunity that different players to be present on the negotiating table hoping to find a consensus solution to the prolong conflict of Afghanistan and ensure no player is kept out of the loop. Another worth noticing dimension is that Russia is one of the key regional and international players, and it has strategic interests and concerns in terms of spread of violence and presence of the terrorist groups in Afghanistan that directly threaten Russia’s allies and they even indirectly threaten Russia as well. This nature of the terrorism is the main cause of Russia’s returning back to political scene of Afghanistan because Russia after its retreat from Afghanistan in 1989, had mostly exercised caution in its policy with this country and remained almost missing from the political scene in this part of the region. While the main goal of the Moscow peace talks is to bring about peace in Afghanistan and in the region as well, at different cases these peace efforts have been seen doubtfully by the Afghan government as well as by the US. Specific reasons have been mentioned occasionally for this lack of trust and most of the time it is the Russian Factor which usually is criticized by the Afghan government and the United States and allies. They approach the growing contact between Moscow and the Taliban stating that the anti-state elements are being supported, backed, and strengthened by Russia hence the motives behind these efforts are highly questionable. In addition, the US is worried that the American-led efforts in Afghanistan are being hijacked by Russia. AS a result it is keeping an eye on the Russian involvement and interest in Afghanistan and the region. Sending senior members to Moscow peace talks by the Taliban is another major development in the coming Moscow peace talks because the group because many political experts hold that any efforts towards bringing peace in Afghanistan should include Taliban as well if it is to be made a successful peace process. From the Russia’s perspective the very agenda of these peace efforts is to keep the spread of ISIS in Afghanistan to Central Asian states and from there on to other states including Russia and China. According to Russia’s terrorism encounter strategy, this is one of the main reasons for Russia’s contacts with the Taliban and provides another reason as to why Taliban should be made part of the peace process.
Afghanistan peace process is in the center of the focus of the regional and international players and the marathon of negotiation with the Taliban is on the full speed between these players with different agendas. What matters for Afghanistan is, that first of all the peace process should be led by the Afghan government in order to ensure the national interest of the country. Afghanistan also believes that only an all-inclusive effort with all the stakeholders as part of the peace process will provide some hope to bring peace in the country and put an end to the long standing dead log in the peace process of Afghanistan.