Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, September 28th, 2020

Peace Deal and Roadblocks

The US-Taliban talks, which continued for ten rounds, have ended and both sides are preparing to sign the agreement at the end of the month. The deal would begin with the withdrawal of US troops and require the Taliban to pledge not to harbor terrorist groups with the intention of attacking the West.
The deal would be conductive to intra-Afghan dialogue and stipulate a 135-day timetable for a US drawdown in Afghanistan and the release of thousands of Taliban prisoners. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper is cited as saying that the prospective peace agreement could reduce US troop levels to about 8,600 from around 13,000 currently in the country. He reiterated US counterterrorism mission would remain in place.
During the Munich Security Conference, the final phase of the US-Taliban deal was confirmed by several sides, however, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani expressed his concern that the Taliban could be using the peace process as a “Trojan horse strategy” to undermine his government but also underlined the fact that the war could not be ended without engaging in a process and testing the insurgents.
Signing a deal is unlikely to end the conflict, but it would enable a larger peace process among all different kinds of political factions within Afghanistan, its large diaspora, and its civil society.
The United Nations has also thrown its weight behind the Afghan peace process aimed at ending the two decades of conflict, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling it an opportunity that “cannot” be missed.
Despite all the aforementioned facts, the path towards peace is still hazardous with many ifs and buts. There are still many questions to answer. The wording “reduction in violence” in itself is quite intriguing and difficult to interpret. The agreement between the US and the Taliban is considered an easier parts of the whole process. The difficulties that lie ahead are in details of the negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government over the expected role of the Taliban’s share in the government, and the future shape of the political set-up.
The Taliban group strongly reacted against the announcement of Afghanistan’s presidential result. Calling the re-election of Ghani as “unlawful” and having no legal basis, the group said that it “is also in conflict with the contents of the ongoing peace process while keeping in mind the current sensitive circumstances of the Afghan issue”.
Meanwhile, the mistrust and discord between Afghan officials and political leaders over the election result will also put the peace process at stake. That is, this tension will create a real roadblock before the process and slow down the success.
To push the process forward, the Taliban have to hold direct talks with the Afghan government rather than political leaders. In other words, if the Taliban declare talks with the government, heads of political parties will likely to seek national consensus through joining the Kabul administration.
It is self-explanatory that the Taliban are not able to win through acts of violence. The Taliban group has inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan soldiers and civilians, all lead to the public hatred. As a result, a report released by Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has found that the Taliban group is responsible for 71 percent of the total of 10,772 civilian casualties in 2019. To this end, although the Taliban was largely involved in killing civilians, they could not expand their geographical control or gain public support.
At the talks between the Taliban and Washington have reached a significant juncture, neither sides have to try to blow the whistle. Moreover, Afghan political and jihadi leaders have to bury their differences and smooth the path for intra-Afghan dialogue. If they seek to continue their mistrust and discord for gaining higher political positions, the emergence of crisis is more likely and the public fear that the jihadi leaders may resort to violence, which will be a slap on the face of democracy.
Jihadi leaders, who head political factions, have been largely involved in civil unrest throughout the history for gaining power. Now as some electoral tickets have lost in the election, they seek to create tension under the pretext that the election was rigged. The destructive role of jihadi and political leaders in civil unrest is known to the public, whose emotional sentiments were capitalized on. So they should stop any movements that will create crisis and put their weight behind the peace process. It is believed that blowing the whistle at the current sensitive time will be a betrayal to the nation. It is the responsibility of political leaders to side with the government to that the peace process bear the desired result.