Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, September 25th, 2020

The Complexities and Challenges of the Afghan Peace Process

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The Complexities and Challenges of  the Afghan Peace Process

With closing to probable commencement of Intra-Afghan Peace Talks, the level of violence has unprecedentedly increased in the country. The official report indicates that civilian casualties have dramatically scaled up.  The recent roadside explosions, magnetic mine explosions and target killings across the country are some the unambiguous example of the mentioned claim. The National Security Council also recently said that at least 23 civilians were killed and 45 others wounded as a result of Taliban attacks in 16 provinces while the victims include innocent women and children. The security officials blame Taliban for most of the incidents and disappointment of people from the peace process. 
The recent escalation of war and violence in Afghanistan has not only concerned the people of Afghanistan but also the international community and international organizations. Recently, the united nation mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expressed concerns over systematic attacks on civil society members. As media report quoted, UNAMA officials said,” there were destroyers who are not in the favor of peace process”. Zalmay Khalilzad also said through a series of tweets that some internal and external destroyers try to interrupt or delay the peace process in the country.
Given the aforementioned concerns, the question is whether the peace process faced stalemate in Afghanistan? If yes, what are the reasons behind? If not why the conflicts are unexpectedly increasing? To provide logical responses to the mentioned questions, we need to discuss about the issues from three separate levels: national, regional and international. Nationally there are three probabilities that why Taliban are inflexible against government and Afghan people. First, the Taliban pursue their political goals through killing of civilians. In recent days, there has been disagreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban over the release of Taliban prisoners. The Afghan government refuses to release 592 of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners. The government argues that the charges against these individuals are serious with claiming blood money against them. As a result, the Taliban have stepped up their attacks in recent days, and the group continues to use violence to force the government to comply with their political demands. Second, many Taliban believe that the United States will leave Afghanistan anyway. In this regard, the electoral view of the US leaders on the peace process and the insistence on the early withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan are linked to shaping this view.  That is why the Taliban are using delay tactic to take power with the absolute military victory and withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. As a result of this perception, there is no need for peace. Third, for Taliban, as a group that rely on violence since its inception, peace is a tool, not an end. In fact, the Taliban has only dream of establishing an Islamic Emirate on the ruins of the Islamic Republic. This view is popular among the Taliban and even acts as a deterrent factor for peace or violence reduction and so the Taliban cannot give a positive response to the violence reduction demand.
At the regional level, it seems that the Taliban supporters may not allow Trump to get privilege from the peace agreement with the Taliban so as to use in the US election campaign. They may try to buy time and play a game that Trump would not achieve anything in the end. So, they are waiting for the result of the US election. If there is a shift in power in the United States, they know that the new government will spend a long time reviewing the American strategy. This is in the interest of Taliban’s regional supporters as they want to prolong the war in Afghanistan. Therefore, they will make efforts to ensure delaying the intra-Afghan peace talks through intensification of war and pushing Taliban to have unfixable positions against Afghanistan’s government and people.
At the international level, there are different analyses about challenges of peace process in Afghanistan. Some analysts believe that there are at least three issues that shows some new differences between the United States and the Taliban over the implementation of the peace agreement: accusation of Taliban for having relation with al-Qaeda, the issue of Taliban prisoners who are blamed for heavy crimes and accusation of Russia for giving money to Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. The today’s media news regarding killing of seven Afghan security forces in northeast Badakhshan province by a joint assault by the Taliban, al Qaeda and Daesh can confirm the mentioned concerns and accusations. Thus, the US strategy to disconnect Taliban from the US opponents through a peace agreement and Taliban’s power sharing with Afghan government has also seemingly failed. Based on this, it seems that the Americans are not optimistic that the Taliban will be loyal to the Doha agreement and this can seriously interrupt the process which started in Doha nearly 17 months ago.
Given the aforementioned complexities, the challenges of intra-peace talks are beyond the release of 592 prisoners. If all sides were determined to put an end to war in the country, they would simply seek alternative solutions. For example, the Taliban could provide another list for the release of detainees so that the process of releasing 5,000 Taliban detainees and1, 000 Afghan government detainees could be completed under a US agreement with the Taliban or both side of talks could ask the neutral international organizations to review and supervise the case of 592 prisoners who allegedly have heavy criminal cases.

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

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