Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Will US Direct Peace Negotiations End The Conflicts in Afghanistan?


Will US Direct Peace Negotiations  End The Conflicts in Afghanistan?

The United States has expressed readiness to initiate direct talks with the Taliban in an attempt to end a 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, a significant shift in American policy in the conflict-ridden country.General John Nicholson, the top commander of US forces in Afghanistan, made the announcement on Monday, saying the move was intended to bring the Afghan government and the militants closer and culminate in formal peace negotiations to end the long-running war.“Our Secretary of State, Mr. (Mike) Pompeo, has said that we, the United States, are ready to talk to the Taliban and discuss the role of international forces,” Nicholson said. “We hope that they realize this and that this will help to move the peace process forward.”
It is said that Senior U.S. officials, including Pompeo and Alice Wells, the State Department’s top diplomat for Afghanistan, have visited Kabul in recent weeks to try to smooth the way for talks. Many obstacles still remain before a conflict which has killed a record number of civilians this year can end. While all sides say they want talks, and there have been behind-the-scenes contacts, the only major peace talks broke down almost immediately after they started in 2015. So, it seems that near-consensus has grown among American and Afghan officials involved in earlier and current efforts to fire up a peace process that the only way out of the war is for the United States to take a more direct role in negotiations.
It comes when Earlier, the New York Times reported that President Donald Trump’s administration had ordered diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban in a bid to jump-start peace negotiations.Pompeo has said that while the overall peace process must be Afghan-led, Washington would be ready to join talks, a shift from its previous position that only Ghani’s government had legitimacy to talk with the Taliban. He has also said the United States is willing to discuss the position of international forces in Afghanistan, which the Taliban have said must.
The United States is preparing to undertake a review of its strategy in Afghanistan, US officials told Reuters, a year after Trump begrudgingly agreed to extend America’s involvement in the 17-year-old war.
The United States is preparing to undertake a review of its strategy in Afghanistan, US officials told Reuters, a year after Trump begrudgingly agreed to extend America’s involvement in the 17-year-old war. Overall, the strategy shift which was confirmed by several senior American and Afghan officials, is intended to bring those two positions closer and lead to broader, formal negotiations to end the long war. The shift to priorities initial US talks with the Taliban over what has proved a futile “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” process stems from a realization by both Afghan and American officials that Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy is not making a fundamental difference in rolling back Taliban gains, according to the Times report.
Sohail Shahin, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, said he was still waiting for confirmation but welcomed signs of the new approach.“This is what we wanted and were waiting for, to sit with the U.S. directly and discuss the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan,” he said.He said that as a first step, he expected to see Taliban leaders removed from a United Nations black list in order to be able to travel. He also said the issue of international troops in Afghanistan would be a major issue and that the Taliban would be willing to discuss with U.S. On the other hand, US officials have said that Trump has shown growing impatience with a lack of progress in Afghanistan, where the Taliban control much of the country despite a more aggressive campaign of air strikes announced last year.
Taliban have frequently rejected talks with the government, which they see as illegitimate and instead insisted that they would only talk with the United States.leave as a condition for negotiations.Last month they said: “The invading American party must realize and understand the reality of the situation, stop pointless stubbornness, sit directly for dialogue with the Islamic Emirate to find a solution for the ongoing imbroglio and withdraw their occupying forces from Afghanistan.”
While no date for any talks has been set, and the effort could still be derailed, the willingness of the United States to pursue direct talks is an indication of the sense of urgency in the administration to break the stalemate in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported.Confirming the move, Afghanistan’s High Peace Council said that the Trump administration wants to boost peace process with the Taliban by involving in direct peace talks with the militant group, following the Afghan government’s repeated call for regional cooperation in this regard. 
According to Afghan local experts ending the war in Afghanistan is not that easy because it is watered by various social and political motives, they all must be thoroughly analyzed and taken to consideration or else peace is not possible. On the hand, this conflict is the longest war in Afghanistan if it failed to stop war, people themselves may proceed to, somehow, end the war as some signs already have been.The recent peace moves andthe warm welcome by the people indicates that the peace has become a collective and national demand. So, it is high time to pave the way the durable peace as there no right reason being acceptable for the people to continue war.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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