Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, April 26th, 2018

US and Afghanistan – Pushy Peace Seekers

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US and Afghanistan – Pushy Peace Seekers

The reconciliation process has been a rocky road for Afghanistan and the conflicts between Kabul government and the Taliban escalated in recent months. The spike in militancy will inflict heavy casualties on Afghan civilians in this year, too. The current situation has left Afghan government and its allies in limbo in terms of dealing with the Taliban. The war has continued for more than a decade and peace was reiterated for almost a decade, but the challenges never stop.
It is self-explanatory that civilians paid heavy price for the protracted war which continues by the Taliban militants. However, the Taliban inflicted the bulk of casualties on civilians through carrying out suicide bombings and terrorist attacks in public places. Simultaneously, the Taliban did not tend to claim the responsibility for the attacks which caused heavy civilian casualties or alleged that the attack took no toll on non-combatants. If the Taliban tend to hold talks with Kabul government with genuine intention, they will have to decrease their attacks, which is the first precondition for holding talks.
Although the issue of talks make the headlines on national newspapers in recent weeks, the spike in conflicts is easily noticeable. The four-nation effort launched by the US National Security Council to bring the Taliban to negotiating table is a very positive movement but it is unlikely to bear the desired outcome. In the past, Saudi-Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the states which recognized the Taliban’s regime, had a strong leverage on the Taliban and al-Qaeda. But with the influence of its regional rival Qatar, Saudi’s push will only bring a splinter group to the peace table which will not end the war in Afghanistan.
To deal the issue from religious perspective, Saudi will be more successful in decreasing militancy. That is to say, the issue will be more fruitful if Saudi government urges the Arabian clergy and muftis to issue fatwa against jihad in Afghanistan, which will make some ideologue militants hesitate their way. If Saudi religious scholars wage a campaign against the Taliban’s ideology – besides the political activities of Saudi government for bringing them to peace table – the Taliban will encounter a great challenge in their recruitment.
Pakistan is also believed to play an essential role in nudging the Taliban to peace table if it puts further pressure on them. Recently, Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Bajwa has said to a top US official that Pakistan is committed to supporting peace in the region, mainly in Afghanistan.
Kabul and Islamabad need to resolve the friction and promote friendly venture to support regional peace and stability. Amidst the ongoing violence and militancy, neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan emerges unscathed. Since Pakistan is intent on supporting Afghan peace process, it should be included in the abovementioned four-nation initiative.
The lack of possibility for a fruitful negotiation which springs from the Taliban’s rancorous practices should not be taken lightly. So far, the Taliban are determined to continue their hit-and-run policy and show no tendency towards peace talks. Thus, talks for the sake of talks will be a repetition of the past game.
Currently, the Taliban are reeling from the death of their high-profile leaders. That is to say, the death of the Taliban’s high-ranking figures in Kunduz province in the airstrike carried out this week by Afghan soldiers has filled them with a strong sense of revenge. They will be seeking to orchestrate deadly attacks against the government, which will necessarily result in civilian casualties. 
If the Taliban find no financial support or safe haven, they will not have the wherewithal to continue the war. So, if the Taliban insurgents hold out against the peace talks, the regional states and their international allies will have to eliminate the financial support and safe haven of the Taliban insurgents. But Kabul government should bear in mind that giving concession to the Taliban, which is suggested by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is tantamount to backing down and it will definitely backfire.
There seems no concrete reason to remain optimist about a fruitful negotiation, especially when all regional countries are not intent on supporting peace in Afghanistan. The regional rivalry is highly destructive to regional stability. To support peace and stability in the region – including Afghanistan – Qatar, Iran, and Russia also should play constructive role in this regard and stop political rivalry.
To sum up, the Taliban’s lukewarm response to peace talks on the one hand, and lack of the concern of some regional states on the other hand leave little room for optimism about the outcome of peace process.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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