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

Vulnerability of Peace Process

New concern emerges regarding peace talks since the Taliban have not signaled directly whether or not to negotiate with the Kabul government despite the prisoners’ swap. Peace talks between the Taliban and the United States have not been resumed, either; and the Taliban fighters continue their terrorist attacks and suicide bombings against soldiers and civilians.
Although the Afghan state and nation have called on the Taliban leadership constantly to hold direct talks with the Kabul administration and urged Washington to include Kabul in the peace talks, which will be resumed between the Taliban and the United States.
The nascent trust between Taliban leadership and Washington is highly vulnerable and it is feared the whistle blowers will derail the peace process. For instance, about six months ago, the Taliban published an article in Urdu-language monthly, Shariah Magazine titled “Blackwater kin Afghanistan mein mutwaqqa aamad” (the expected arrival of Blackwater in Afghanistan”), claimed the Blackwater planned to take on war in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Syed Fazl-E-Haider, a Pakistani writer cited a Taliban anonymous source in a commentary titled, “Was Blackwater behind the collapse of Afghan peace talks?” that Washington called off negotiations after the last month’s Taliban attack in Kundus and the Camp Integrity in the Green Village near Kabul adding that at least 30 Blackwater mercenaries were killed, including Shafiqullah, the person in charge of the camp.
Recently, however, David Petraeus, a former director of the CIA and former commander of KKR Global Institute said in his article, co-authored with a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security Vance Serchuk, that “the Taliban’s vehement insistence that all US troops leave Afghanistan strongly suggests that its purpose in peace talks isn’t to transform its relationship with the United States but to evict its forces so that they can then overthrow the Afghan government”. Calling the Taliban’s counterterrorism promises “untrustworthy”, the authors added that the Taliban were unlikely to break ties with “al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremists enjoying sanctuary in Pakistan”.
The aforementioned statements indicate that there is lack of trust between the Taliban and Washington. If the mistrust continues, the peace process is unlikely to bear the desired result in the near future. The Taliban will persist on the complete withdrawal of foreign forces, but US will not trust the group’s counterterrorism promises in return. Thus, the two sides will continue haggling at the table.
The Taliban’s foul play and insincere acts suggest its lukewarm response towards peace talks with the Kabul government. If the Taliban really seek to pursue a sinister aim under the peace process, they will regret their decision. Afghan people are not ready to buy the Taliban’s fundamental ideology and will stand with the government. The Taliban will be only allowed to have a share in the government if it reaches a peace deal with its Afghan interlocutors.
It is believed that direct talks with the Kabul government will catalyze the peace process. The Kabul government has shown its highest level of goodwill through releasing three leaders of Haqqani network. Now the ball is in the Taliban’s court whether or not to reciprocate Kabul’s goodwill.
Global powers and regional stakeholders have to engage in Afghan peace process more actively. For instance, the United States and Pakistan had the most essential role in prisoners’ swap. They should now broker talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
It should be noted that peace talks are vulnerable and will be derailed if regional stakeholders do not engage in more actively and constructively. If the talks do not bear the desired fruit, the Taliban will face the consequences.
If the Taliban leadership continues its foul play at the table, global powers and international community have to support the Afghan government in counter-terrorism campaign. It will not be that hard to defeat the Taliban if their sanctuaries are targeted and their financial resources are cut. One will wonder that the Taliban have fought for about two decades, but their financial resources have either remained hidden or simply ignored and not targeted. The Taliban should not remain as a mysterious group and their supporting resources should be uncovered to the world and targeted. Meanwhile, if global powers seek to defeat the Taliban, they have to impose sanctions on its backers. 
It will be in the interests of both warring parties and regional states to pursue negotiations with bona fide intention since it is clear for the Taliban group that it will not win through war.