Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

How the US Can Leave a Good Legacy in Afghanistan

Al-Qaeda terrorist group launched an attack On September 11, 2001by an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. As a result, the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper burnt and hundreds of people were killed. Consequently, military strikes against Afghanistan Taliban were launched by the United States and an international coalition that included Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany and France. This attack was military retaliation for the September 11, 2001 attacks by Al Qaeda on American targets. It was called Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan. The attack was launched after several weeks of diplomatic effort to have al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, handed over by the Taliban government, but Taliban denied surrendering al-Qaeda leader to the US. The Taliban were toppled soon thereafter, and a government headed by Hamid Karzai was installed in the country.
The US and allies may thought that the brief war had been successful. But the insurgent Taliban emerged in 2006 in force, and begun using suicide tactics copied from jihadist groups elsewhere in the region.
The US different war strategies and policies in Afghanistan did not bring the ideal results it wanted. And though the casualty rate for US troops is far lower than it was earlier in the conflict, Americans are still losing their lives after 18 years into the war. From the beginning of the war in Afghanistan to 2019, 2300 American troopers have been killed and more than 20400 troopers have been injured. And it has cost the US more than $1.08 trillion so far. Currently, the situation remains decidedly mixed with the conflict at a “stalemate. However, still, some senior officials feel there are some reasons for cautious optimism on the diplomatic front. As such, the US decided to give the diplomacy a new pulse and not only focus on the war but also to focus on finding a dignified political solution to the Afghan conflict.
Appointing Zalmay Khalilzad 2018As U.S. Special Adviser to Afghanistan
Based on this background, Zalmay Khalilzad was Appointed on September 5, 2018As U.S. Special Adviser to Afghanistan in order to bring the Afghan government and the Taliban to a reconciliation. Khalilzad and Taliban negotiators have already held five rounds of talks in Qatar.
The fifth round of the talks between the US and Taliban negotiators in Qatar ended after 16 days on 12 March with agreement in draft between the two sides on some key issues under debate. Any peace requires agreement on four issues: counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire.
Counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal issues are the international aspects of the talks that Khalilzad and Taliban are inching toward an agreement on them.  According to Khalilzad, when the agreement in draft about a withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures is finalized, the Taliban and other Afghans, including the Afghan government, will begin intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire.
Intra-Afghan Negotiations More Challenging than the International Part of the Negotiations
There is no political consensus among Afghan politicians. Therefore, each Afghan political group and individual peruses its own interest and agenda in the talks. Afghan political analysts warn that if a political consensus is not reached in the peace talks, challenges will increase in the war-weary Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, Afghan government is pushing hard to take the lead of the talks as the legitimate representative of the Afghans. To ensure this, Afghan government is pushing to hold the ‘Grand Consultative Jirga’ to identify the red lines of the peace talks and help “dignified” peace in the country. According to Ghani, Afghans have to determine those values which should not to be compromised. And also the scale of flexibility and the cost of peace must be clarified by the GCJ.
The Red Lines of the Intra-Afghan Peace Talks
In order Afghanistan reach “dignified” peace, it is necessary Afghan government and people identify some concrete redlines in the talks with the Taliban. These red lines could be: 1) Maintaining the totality of the current constitution of Afghanistan and if it requires any amendments, such amendments must be adjusted based on the amendment frameworks identified in the constitution. 2) Any peace deal requires that it must respect and ensure the political participation of all walks of the life of Afghans. 3) The basic rights and freedoms of the people must be guaranteed in the peace deal. 4) Any peace deal shall ensure the good relations of Afghanistan with the international community, putting the national interests of the country first.
Afghan peace talks will enter to its most complicated and challenging phase when the Intra-Afghan peace talks begin. The red lines of peace talks have already been identified. Afghans citizens will always remember and highly value all the US sacrifices in order to restore democracy and all the economic supports it has provided to the country to build the relevant structures for a strong democracy and economic prosperity in Afghanistan. More importantly, if the United States can help Afghans to ensure the mentioned redlines in here, the US will be able to leave a good legacy that will always remain in the history of Afghanistan as one of the most golden memories of it.