Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Taliban Will Face the Consequences with Failure of Talks

Peace talks between the Taliban leadership and Afghan representatives, which were arranged to be held in China, have been apparently cancelled with the disagreement over the combination of negotiating team from Kabul side. The Taliban is said to have persisted that former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had to play the role of third party. The bulk part of the delegation had to be introduced by Karzai, which was refused by the Kabul government.
The Kabul side persists on formation of a national and inclusive team which has to represent the government. However, political factions seek to carry more weight in the talks with the Taliban.
During his tenure, Karzai showed strong sensitivity towards the contacts made between political factions and the Taliban and believed that the US was behind the issue to build a parallel administration, however, now he is seeking to put his weight behind the talks as a party despite the government’s concern. It indicates that a national consensus has not been formed and political leaders held meetings with the Taliban, which has refused to hold formal talks with the Kabul government, several times.
Peace talks between the Taliban and the United States began with a major concession by the Trump administration: It agreed to a Taliban demand that Ghani’s government be excluded from the negotiations, which triggered public concern. That decision elevated the Taliban to an equal negotiating partner without requiring the militants to give up anything significant in return.
To show its goodwill and pave the ground for direct talks, Ghani administration put its cards on the table through surrendering three men responsible for killing Afghan soldiers and civilians with no guarantee that the exchange would lead to ultimate goal of talks between Kabul and the Taliban. Now the ball is in the Taliban’s court whether or not to negotiate with Kabul.
It should be noted that Afghanistan paid heavy sacrifices in combating terrorism. Over 31,000 civilian deaths due to war-related violence have been documented and 29,900 civilians have been wounded.
The US also paid great sacrifices in fighting terrorist groups, including the Taliban. Nearly 2,400 American soldiers have died and more than 20,000 wounded since the US toppled the Taliban regime. To this end, the Taliban network either has to be integrated into the government through negotiations or be dismantled through intensified attacks against them and disruption of its financial resources.
The Taliban has been widely involved in civilian fatalities and war crime. The victims’ families will never forgive the Taliban fighters for killing their family members, including women and children. To this end, since the Taliban has been responsible for killing untold number of Afghan soldiers and civilians, it should stop bargaining for higher price at the table. Hence, holding talks with the Taliban is a generous act from the government side that the Taliban should accept without ambivalence. According to general belief, holding talks with the Taliban does not necessarily mean to treat its war criminals with impunity. If the Taliban and the Afghan government reach a peace agreement, the Taliban war criminals have to be prosecuted and their militants disarmed.
Meanwhile, the Taliban do not have the wherewithal to continue the war without the help of its supporters, whoever they are, and the international community and global powers have to figure out and put pressure on their supporters and providers. Meanwhile, any countries which have leverage on the Taliban should engage in brokering talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
The Taliban fears missing the due time and not reaching an agreement with Trump administration. The main reasons are that the Taliban militant fighters will be exhausted of the endless conflict, which yield no positive outcome; their indiscriminate attacks will prompt religious scholars to start a strong regional campaign against the Taliban’s fundamental ideology; and the failure of talks will enrage Washington and its international allies to increase the number of its troops in Afghanistan and intensify their attacks against the Taliban and their sanctuaries.
If peace talks fail, the Taliban will face horrible consequences. But it will inflict further casualties on the people of Afghanistan. With this in mind, global powers and regional stakeholders need to broker talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government and put pressure on the Taliban to reduce violence. Meanwhile, the Taliban should come to the table with reasonable demands and stop playing a foul game.
Simultaneously, Afghan officials and political figures have to form a national consensus and an inclusive team for negotiations with the Taliban. Political figures and heads of political factions have to support the government’s stance and give up seeking individual or factional concessions from the Taliban group.