Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, August 17th, 2019

Four Lessons to Consider in Peace Talks with Taliban

Peace is a long awaited wish for any Afghan. The Afghan citizens know very well the value of peace, because they have been the victim of war for more than 4 decades. They have always supported peace building efforts in the country and have welcomed the imitated by any side. In trying to end fighting in Afghanistan and secure a sustainable representative government for Afghans, Afghan government, China, Russia, Afghan neighbors and especially the United States have continually tried encouraging Taliban members to work with the Afghan government. However, initiatives and have talks failed.
Building on these past experiences, there are four lessons for those who have little choice but to negotiate with stubborn insurgents: set moral guidelines on end goals for the negotiating team, recognize that it’s challenging for both sides to negotiate and fight simultaneously; and apply force to back diplomacy and vice versa and clearly define that Afghanistan conflict has only political solution.
Fragmentation among opponents is frustrating when commitments are not met, but can lead to breakthroughs. For most it’s puzzling why a few ideologues prefer endless pursuit of power, at any cost, over peace and stability.
According to the political scholars, attempts at US-Taliban talks require persistence, moral guidelines on end goals. 
As mentioned before, here are details of four lessons learnt during sitting across the negotiating table from the Taliban that may be helpful to those who may seek to negotiate with them or others who need to talk to an insurgent group in some present or future conflict:
Set clear conditions and moral guidelines and stick to them. These need not be preconditions. Indeed, before talks with the Taliban began. It shall be clearly clarified to them that Afghan people would support reconciliation with only those insurgents who met four important end conditions: Break with al Qaeda and ISIS, end violence, and live inside an Afghan Constitution that guarantees the rights of all individuals, especially women. So far most of the talks have reached no agreements on some critical parts of this sequence showing the moral ambiguity of talking to insurgents.
It is hard to fight and negotiate at the same time. Taliban has mounted their pressure during the talks and have done so in an unconstrained manner, using brutal tactics such as attacks on schools and hospitals, and the assassination of influential figures. They have applied these tactics to keep the Afghan government, the US and NATIO busy or distracted while they continued to carry out military operations, waiting for ultimate withdrawal of the US and causing more casualties the ANSF.
Force must be backed by diplomacy, and diplomacy must be backed by force. Talking with the Taliban shall be part of the larger “diplomatic campaign” through complementing the military surge. Such tactics will harness all of the instruments of non-military power to support Afghanistan, such as development assistance, private-sector investment and support for civil society. As part of this effort, it calls for organizing meetings at which nations and international organizations pledge future political and material support for Afghanistan. These conferences shall also be designed to send the Taliban clear messages that the international community was committed to supporting Afghanistan beyond reaching a peace deal or not.
Afghanistan conflict has only political solution
The Afghanistan government, as well as the United States, shall clearly clarify to the Taliban that there can only be a political solution and not a military solution to Afghan War. Taliban shall not misunderstand the efforts of the Afghan government and the US as a weakness that they are ready to surrender to any demands of Taliban including the revival of Emirate or resuming their harsh policies against the ethnic groups and women. 
In a nutshell, a peaceful end to the Afghan war on terror now requires that the international community meets the commitments it has made to Afghanistan. President Trump also faces the challenging question of how long the US troops shall stay in Afghanistan spending extra billion dollars to continue the longest US war. However, no peace deal must sacrifice the constitution and democratic achievements of Afghanistan.