Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Afghans Support Conditions-based Withdrawal Approach

The Taliban are likely to resume the second round of intra-Afghan dialogue, which was stalled as the Taliban walked away from the negotiating table and sent their delegations to Iran and Russia. The Taliban political spokesperson Mohammad Naeem Wardak has said that the leaders of the Taliban and the republic negotiating teams have had a meeting recently and stressed continuation of the talks.
The Taliban sought to put pressure on Washington through sending their delegations to the neighboring countries and walking away from the table so that the Biden administration agrees with the troop pullout in May, which was agreed by the Trump administration, but their pressure was proved abortive as the United States and NATO said that the troop withdrawal will be condition-based, adding that the Taliban did not honor their deal with the United States. The 2020 US-Taliban deal stipulates that the US withdrawal from America’s longest war be based on conditions on the ground and the insurgents’ fulfillment of the commitments.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani also said that the US – now with only 2,500 troops in the country – and NATO “must take a very strong stand on the conditions-based approach” to withdrawing their troops.
It is understandable that walking away from the negotiating table as well as from their agreement with the United States, the Taliban will also undergo the horrible consequences. If they do not seize the created opportunity, such a platform for negotiations is hard to be provided. Hence, the Taliban will return to the table. It is believed that the Taliban seek to play a foul game as they did not honor their commitment with Washington and sought to intensify their attacks so as to gain more concessions in the talks.
The intra-Afghan dialogue has so far made slow progress due to differences between the negotiating sides. What added to the already complicated process is the continued violence in Afghanistan. The republic team said earlier that reduction in violence and declaration of ceasefire would be on the top of their agenda in the second round of talks, which is yet to begin formally.
The Biden administration is expected to reaffirm the framework of the Doha agreement. However, there is every possibility that it will push the Taliban much harder to ensure they are, as a US National Security Council spokesperson put it, “living up to their commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, reduce violence in the country, and engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.” A more serious US effort is also likely aimed at eliciting Taliban assurances that women’s rights and human rights are respected and protected.
Now Washington is going to shift the May timeframe of its final withdrawal making it contingent on comprehensive implementation of the Doha agreement, mainly reduction in violence and real progress in the intra-Afghan dialogue.
Earlier, US CENTCOM Commander, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said violence in the country was simply “too high,” He said, “The Taliban continue to resort to extreme violence and targeted killings across the country and frequent attacks on the Afghan forces. While they have mostly avoided attacks on US and coalition units, the level of violence is just simply too high and so that is an action that we look at.”
Emphasizing a negotiated political settlement between the Afghan negotiating sides, McKenzie also stressed the necessity of a “conditions-based” approach to a US withdrawal.
The Taliban have to show flexibility and return to the peace table. They have to agree with reduction in violence and declaration of ceasefire so that the peace process moves faster so that the people live a peaceful life. Targeting civilians and intensifying attacks as bargaining chips will only deteriorate the security situation and push the talks to stalemate. Therefore, the Taliban should stop this strategy and negotiate for political settlement with genuine intention.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have to fulfill their commitments through severing ties with international terrorist groups and reduce violence, which will pave the ground for US troop withdrawal.Since Afghan ordinary people are frustrated with the Taliban’s escalated violence, they support the conditions-based US troop withdrawal and believe that the Taliban will further increase their attacks if foreign soldiers leave Afghanistan in the lurch.
In short, conditions-based withdrawal is a realistic approach, which will be welcomed by both the state and nation.
Resumption of the intra-Afghan talks is a reasonable decision and will be in the interests of both the negotiating sides. The Taliban have to return to the table with genuine intention and reduce the level of violence against Afghan soldiers and civilians.