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

Charting Roadmap in Oval Office Unlikely to Resolve Afghanistan’s Issues

The Afghan peace process is debated nationally and internationally in recent days. The United States seek to accelerate the process, but the Afghan side and the Taliban are likely to have their own concerns. The intra-Afghan dialogue in the Qatari capital of Doha could not bear the desired result. The US new administration is seeking to put its weight on the process in order to put an end to this problem. But there concerns drag on whether or not the recent initiative could really end the decades-long conflict.
The US Secretary of State, in a letter to President Ashraf Ghani, has reiterated that Washington will accelerate the process and bring all parties to a point of agreement. In this letter, four issues have be proposed to end the ongoing violence and push the process forward. First, The United States will ask the United Nations to convene Foreign Ministers and envoys from neighboring countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Indian, as well as from the United States so as to discuss a unified approach in support of the process.
Second, Washington has sent the roadmap through its special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to Kabul but reiterated that “we do not intend to dictate terms to the parties” but to pave the grounds for three issues: (1) the foundation principles that will guide Kabul’s future governing and constitutional arrangements. (2) A roadmap to a new, inclusive administration. (3) The terms of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. Third, Washington will ask Istanbul to host a senior-level meeting of both sides in the coming weeks to finalize a peace agreement.
Fourth, efforts should be made for reduction in violence so as to bring down the civilian casualties and a 90-day “Reduction in Violence” proposal has been prepared to prevent the Taliban’s Spring Offensive and support a political settlement between the two sides.
The letter finally reiterated unity and inclusiveness and asked President Ghani to broaden the consultative group with political figures, including Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyad, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and Chairperson of High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, so as to reach a consensus. The letter concluded that Washington will consider “the full withdrawal” of its forces by May 1st.Overall, the US new administration seems in a hurry to exit Afghanistan and urge the two sides to reach an agreement in one way or another.
The peace process is unlikely to be resolved through holding a few meetings rather it has many ifs and buts. Charting a roadmap for the issue of Afghanistan in the Oval Office without the presence of the negotiating and warring factions does not seem to be a panacea for the problem. If the Joe Biden administration makes a hasty decision, without a proper and thorough calculations, it will be a terrible political error, which will deteriorate the security situation or even push the country to a civil war. Approaching to the peace process as a project will be irrational.
Meanwhile, Khalilzad, who grew up in the United States is not fully aware of all aspects of Afghanistan as a local political figure is. He is neither a mastermind. Therefore, although Khalilzad signed an agreement with the Taliban leaders, it could not bring in peace or stability. Hence, the Doha talks have failed.Many believe that a hasty approach to the peace talks will not lead to sustainable peace. If Afghanistan turns to 1970s and the history repeats itself, the world will condemn the United States. There are many details to be discussed regarding the constitution, human rights, women’s rights and freedoms, democracy and the entire post-deal political structure. The go-with-our-roadmap-or-we-withdraw-our-support attitude seems naïve to believe that it will end the decades of conflict.It is self-explanatory that the history of Afghanistan has multiple layers with many ups and downs. There are many challenging issues ahead. The Taliban have not honored their deal with the United States, not moderated their visions regarding women’s rights and liberties, and not reduced violence. Hence, the Taliban appeared as foul players at the peace talks. A strong international guarantees are needed to ensure that the Taliban will remain committed to the peace agreement they are likely to sign with the Afghan government. In short, putting an end to the decades-long conflict and resolving the tension of a multi-layer society such as Afghanistan via few meetings does not seem possible. The letter shows that Washington intends to resolve the problem of Afghanistan once for all, which is an unlikely scenario. The United States has to approach the issue of Afghanistan and the peace process in a realistic way.