Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Regional States Unlikely to be Immune to Consequences of Peace Deadlock

The Doha peace talks have reached a deadlock as the Taliban have walked away from the table without official declaration. A member of the Afghan negotiating team has warned the other day that his group would depart from Doha if “meaningful” talks do not get underway soon. Violence continues unabated. The graph of civilian casualties is high. Afghans are highly frustrated and disappointed.
The ordinary people, who bear the brunt of conflict, fear an unstoppable escalated in violence. The Taliban, widely engaged in killing civilians, are unwilling to reduce violence despite public calls for its reduction. Global stakeholders are also apprehensive about the escalated violence and urged the Taliban on multiple occasions not to spill the blood of civilians, mainly women and children.
The Biden administration intends to review the US-Taliban Doha agreement in the context of “whether the Taliban have fulfilled the commitments they made” in the deal. Washington’s decision to review the deal has caused concern in the ranks of the Taliban. Reports say that the Taliban have not severed their links with al-Qaeda and the Taliban have not reduced violence, which the US considers violation of the Doha peace deal. In short, the Biden administration does not seem to be happy with the current approach to the conflict and is likely to put further pressure on the Taliban so as to secure a deal that is more acceptable.
The Taliban have warned in a statement that any repudiation of the agreement would lead to horrible consequences.
The Taliban delegation has visited Tehran and Moscow and is presumably in contacts with some other regional states. The motive behind these contacts is to counter US pressure. They also seek to relay a message to Washington that they are not alone politically and have the support of regional states.
A Taliban commander is cited as saying that senior Taliban commanders and shadow governors “have been directed to return to their positions and attend special sessions and discussions to chalk out a future strategy.” The Taliban will address many issues, including the “deadlock” in the talks, he added.
Afghan officials have been calling on the Taliban to continue the negotiations. In his recent statement, Head of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah has criticized the Taliban for stalling the talks. He has called on regional stakeholders to encourage the Taliban to return to the negotiating table. Abdullah also reiterated inclusiveness of the peace council, saying that every commission in the council will ensure participation from “all layers of society” in the peace process.
Meanwhile, the Kabul administration expects regionals states, which host the Taliban delegations, to bring the Taliban leadership under pressure to return to the peace table. That is to say, if hosting the Taliban increase their international credibility and embolden their confidence, Afghan officials will be against it. Regional and global stakeholders have to persuade the Taliban to continue the negotiations with the Afghan government delegation.
It is self-explanatory that if the Taliban walk away from the negotiating table as well as Doha agreement, the consequences will be horrible. In such a case, the stage would be set for a civil war that could jeopardize the entire region. The result would be wholescale destruction with no winners.
If the Taliban do not approach the peace process wisely and walk away from the table, they will face horrible consequences. Playacting and continuing foul game at the negotiating table as well as killing civilians as a bargaining chip at the table are most likely to derail the talks. The Taliban have to seize the created opportunity and integrate into the system without much delay.
Regional and global stakeholders have to pressure the Taliban leadership to cut its ties with the international terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has to put pressure on regional states to use their leverage on the Taliban so that they continue their talks with the Afghan government and honor their deal with Washington.
Political pundits and military veterans have warned about the horrible consequences of hasty troop pullout.
With this in mind, Washington has to pursue a condition-based and “responsible withdrawal” so that a security vacuum is not created in Afghanistan.
US-led NATO forces need to maintain their presence and support Afghan soldiers.
All sides have to play their role constructively so as to find a negotiated settlement for the ongoing conflict in the country. The sincere role of regional and global stakeholders carry increasing significance in the peace process. Hence, they have to broker the deadlock.