Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, February 22nd, 2024

Taliban either Reel from Heavy Casualties or Return to Negotiating Table


Taliban either Reel from Heavy Casualties or Return to Negotiating Table

Afghanistan’s decades-long conflict has entered a new phase following the US’ decision to withdraw all its troops from the country by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Amidst the ongoing conflict and stalemate in peace talks, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, along with a high-ranking delegation, have held a meeting with US President Joe Biden in the White House. In their first face-to-face meeting, Biden assured Ghani and Abdullah of the lasting partnership between Kabul and Washington as military drawdown continues and the Taliban persist on their escalated violence, turning down the constant public demand for reduction in violence and declaration of ceasefire.
A number of US politicians and high-level officials appear to be against the hasty troop pullout and believe that it will create a room for the resurgence of al-Qaeda, which maintains ties with the Taliban group. In turn, US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnel said in his recent statements, “President Biden’s decision to withdraw US forces leaves our Afghan partners alone to confront threats that his own top advisors acknowledge are grave and growing worse.” He added, “The Taliban, emboldened by our retreat, is rolling back years of progress, especially for the rights of Afghan women, on its way to taking Kabul.”
With the continuation of the US troop withdrawal, the Taliban leadership has ignored its peace agreement with the United States signed last year in Qatari capital of Doha. As a result, the group continues escalated insurgency and postpone peace talks to buy time. The soaring violence is likely to shrink further the space for any meaningful talks or breakthrough. The Taliban’s intensified attacks indicate that they seek to continue military deal. Earlier, Abdullah doubted the Taliban’s intention for seeking political solution to the conflict as the level of violence increases since the Taliban intensified their attacks. He warned that the Taliban are seriously miscalculated to think they are making military progress in the country.
The architect of the US deal and current US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad says some progress has been made in the peace process but without offering any details.
A Taliban delegation, led by Abdul Hakim Haqqani, was in Pakistan last month. Sources indicate that the main agenda was Taliban participation in the Istanbul Conference and fast-tracking an intra-Afghan agreement. Notwithstanding this fact, the security situation in Afghanistan shows the Taliban’s lukewarm response to the negotiated settlement to the conflict. The group also refused to participate in the Istanbul Conference.
If the Taliban do not return to the peace table and continue violation of its peace agreement with Washington, the Biden administration is likely to reconsider the complete troop pullout from Afghanistan. The US has invested blood and treasure in the country for the last couple of decades to dismantle terrorist networks and foil any threats to the American soil. Despite pledging to cut ties with al-Qaeda and not posing threat to the United States, if the Taliban do not honor their commitment, the Biden administration needs to reconsider its policy.
With the start of the US troop pullout, the Taliban were emboldened and declared victory, believing that they could win through military actions. However, the recent public uprising and mobilization against the Taliban fighters in norther provinces have filled the Taliban with chagrin and concerns.
The Taliban group fears a public uprising against it across the country. Recently, the group’s spokesperson has softened its tone. Meanwhile, the Taliban seek to dominate social media through circulating propaganda and false information.
It is self-explanatory that the Taliban shed the blood of civilians, including women and children, without an iota of mercy and occupy residential areas to fight against Afghan soldiers.
The people are highly frustrated with the Taliban’s acts of violence and bloodshed. Therefore, they will not succumb to the Taliban’s cruelty. So, there is strong possibility for public mobilization against the Taliban across the country.  Furthermore, if the Taliban continue violence and bloodshed, violating their peace agreement with the United States, they will be marginalized politically. The entire world will stand against the Taliban.
The Taliban’s backers have to withdraw their support from the group and reconsider their policy.
Regional and global stakeholders should put their weight behind the peace talks and pressure the Taliban to honor their deal with the United States and stop killing the people of Afghanistan. Military action will not be solution to the conflict. If the created opportunity for peace is missed, the Taliban are unlikely to regain such an opportunity. As a result of public mobilization against the Taliban, the group will be defeated forever without having a share in the government.

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

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