IICR GLOBE 2020 Webinar Series, Chapter 3: From Inter US-Taliban to Intra-Afghan Dialogue

9 June 2020

US- Taliban peace deal was not an easy job. It took years to conclude. Initial efforts that commenced as early as 2011 continued experiencing crests and troughs. Hiccups, delays and discontinuations and recontinuations kept taking turns. This peace deal also took renewed and very hard efforts of about a year plus. The peace deal is not an end in itself. However, it may be viewed as a ray of hope and a meaningful step towards building long lasting peace in Afghanistan through intra-Afghan dialogue and power sharing. US has committed to withdraw all its troops in 14 months. The peace deal has started facing retarders already. President Ashraf Ghani appears to be out of step with USA and is pursuing his own political scheme, yet one can be optimistic that US will be able to persuade him to engage in dialogue with Taliban and honor US-Taliban peace deal for better future of Afghanistan. However given the history of Afghan land all aspects seem to be hypothetical and wishful desires.

Michael Kugelman (Topic: US-Taliban Peace Agreement and Current US Policy on Afghanistan)
US goal in Afghanistan is simple. We all know that the President Trump wants to get out of Afghanistan and move its forces out of Afghanistan. This has been clear since the start of his presidency. He was never interested in military commitment in Afghanistan and when he announced his Afghanistan strategy in 2017, he said that he went against his own instincts when he agreed to stay in Afghanistan at that time. He was never comfortable for the stay.
He pursued talks with Taliban he wanted an agreement that would give him political cover to get out of Afghanistan. There is a reason in why the US or Trump administration succeeded in getting a deal done with the Talibans, which is that Trump Administration was willing to do what Barrack Obama was not. That is to hold bi-lateral talks without the Afghan Government. Talibans have been long interested in talks with US. They wanted US forces to be moved out of Afghanistan.

Rahimullah Yousafzai (Topic: Intra-Afghan Dialogue and The Future of Afghan Nation)
There have been many ups and down after the Afghan peace deal has been signed. However, there is more hope that intra-afghan dialogue will happen. The Afghan peace deal has two main points i) the US forces will withdraw from Afghanistan and ii) The Afghan land shall not be used against United States. Nevertheless, there are also few hindrances as well. One was the release of the prisoners by both sides and next one was the Afghanistan’s political issue. The later was solved few days back in form of coalition rule.
The deal is a plus for Taliban so they will propose quick proceedings however, for the sitting government, that could mean sharing of power and so they may adopt delaying tactics. For this, Taliban can use their military pressure, or any acts of violence in order to compel the central government of Afghanistan for a consensus as a result of an intra-Afghan dialogue, which will not be an easy task to perform.

Trump wanted a deal, any deal to give him political cover to get out of Afghanistan and he did sign a deal, which is deeply flawed and very generous to Taliban. What the deal did? It improved relations between Pakistan and US. It has recognized that Pakistan was very helpful in bringing Taliban to the table. The tricky part is intra-Afghan dialogue in which the role of US would be minimal, but it will be more active in it. Which is evident from the active visits of Zalmay Khaalilzad and Mike Pompeo. However, it is a tricky business to bring Taliban on extended cease-fire timelines and be less violent. If Intra-Afghan Dialogue begins, as it is said that the role of US would be minimized due to the fact it does not compel Taliban’s to reach any deal with afghan government.
Another factor which adds into the equation is the recent UN report on Taliban’s association with Al-Qaeda is highlighted. However, the US has not given serious concern over the report, as it wants to keep the deal in play. While in US even if Joe Biden wins the election in November there is less chance that policy related to Afghanistan would change due to strong bi-partisan support for the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Concluding Remarks:
It is for sure without any second opinion that Pakistan has suffered most in this whole Afghan saga. It has suffered in ever international and national aspect including huge monetary and human loss. The tripartite which was initiated in order to bring peaceful solution to the Afghanistan’s everlasting pain, it was highlighted in it that there that there shall be talks with Taliban. However, at that time no one anticipated it as a viable solution. Most of the people though that Taliban can be overcome by force. However, here we are with a paper determining solution.
It is important to know the will of the Afghanistan’s central government, as without them the half of the deal would be ineffective. If Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah are willing to share their power with the Taliban, then there can be foresightedness of peace.
• United States shall not stop its aid to the Afghanistan until the point or time of sustainability in Afghanistan. As after April 2021, there would be no or very minute presence in the Afghanistan, so not doing so would collapse the whole Afghan structure all the sudden.
• All parties shall consider the spoilers whether they are internal or external. There shall pe proper mechanisms, which can be employed in order to minimize the role of spoilers.
• There shall be regional arrangement about the ownership of the agreement. Regional arrangement means those countries with effective role in Afghanistan such as: Pakistan, KSA, Turkey, Russia, China and Iran.

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