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Recent Insecurity and Lusterless Future of the Peace Process

Published Date: April 24, 2016

On August 9 2015, similar explosion occurred in Shah Shaheed locality of Kabul city which caused hundreds of civilian casualties and millions of financial losses. But nobody claimed responsibility for that attack.

 

The Direction of Security Situation

Recently, the Taliban has announced[4] their spring offensive “Operation Omari”, and had warned that their fighters will lunch “aggressive” offensives on foreign and internal military bases, conduct infiltration operations, attack sensual and safe areas and “pernicious officials” throughout the country. Besides that, they would also attack prisons to free the Taliban members.

On the other hand, the Afghan government has also announced “Operation Shafaq (Twilight)” [5] against the Taliban and that in this operation; it will conduct aggressive offensives against the armed Taliban.

The Afghan government now seems to be disappointed with Quadrilateral Peace Talks and so it has focused on war against the Taliban. Thus, the spokesmen of the Presidential Palace, CEO and National Security Council, during a press conference, said that war is considered as the top priority of the Afghan government at the present time.

On the other hand, from a military point of view, last winter was so different compared to previous winters; and thus the level of war did not get lower at this winter. According to the report of UNAMA on civilian casualties, in the first three months of 2016, civilian casualties have reached to 1943 people which show an increase compared to the same period in 2015. The report has attributed the responsibility of 60% of civilian casualties to Anti-government forces and 19% of them to Pro-government forces. [6]

Considering the last winter and the announcement of operations and positions of the Afghan government and the Taliban, it seems that current year would be a bloody year. Intensification of war in the Northern region and the recent attack in Kabul are preliminary examples. Last week, Kunduz was once again surrounded by the Taliban, and Parliament members from this province expressed concern over fall of Kunduz for a second time[7].

Imprecise future of the Peace Process

The National Unity Government (NUG) Peace strategy relies on countries in the region. Hence, the series of Quadrilateral Peace Talks was begun in January 2016 and lasted till March; however, this process failed after the Afghan Taliban refused to participate in these talks.

Despite the refusal of the Taliban regarding their participation in these talks, the Afghan government was still hoping that Pakistan would bring the Taliban to the negotiation table. After the fourth meeting of quadrilateral talks and boycott of the Taliban, Pakistani officials were saying that the fifth meeting of this series would be held soon; but since February, Pakistan has broken its promises about facilitating face to face talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban for four times. Firstly, Pakistan had promised that face to face talks will be held at the end of February, and then it promised that these talks would be held in the first week of March, later in mid-March, and then the end of March; but these talks are yet to occur.

Breaking of the promises and failure of face to face talks has now led the Afghan National Security Advisor, Hanif Atmar to visit China on April 17, 2016. In this trip, he aimed to expand military ties with China (providing China with the list of Afghan military demands) and to make China to cooperate in the peace process[8].

A day before the bloody explosion in Kabul, during a meeting with Parliament members, Ashraf Ghani said that he has boycotted[9] the Quadrilateral Peace Talks and also added that in the upcoming six months, peace will be maintained and that he is working on a new peace policy.[10]

The Recent bloody explosion in Kabul, Afghan government and the Taliban’s announced operations and the deadlock in NUG’s peace strategy present a dark scenario for a peace process.

 

Reasons behind the failure of Peace talks with the Taliban

The main factors behind the failure of the Afghan government’s peace strategy are as following:

  • Reliance on other countries: The Afghan issue has regional and international aspects and involving these countries in the peace process is advantageous; however, entire reliance on these countries is not in the advantage of Afghanistan. The failure of the former Afghan president Karzai was also due to his reliance on US and Pakistan and now Ashraf Ghani also vastly relies on Pakistan; but after one and a half year it has not yet had any outcomes. Therefore, the government is being criticized that it does not have intention for peace and it keeps the public opinion busy with its present fruitless struggles. [11]
  • Lack of a neutral mediator group: it is also a main factor in the failure of the Afghan peace process. Both the Afghan government and the Taliban do not trust each other; therefore, a third-impartial-party acceptable for both sides is needed in order to bring the two sides closer and work on building trust between them.
  • Ignoring the Qatar Office: in the past few years, the Taliban have tried to prove that they are not under Pakistan’s influence and therefore, they established their political office in Qatar and are still emphasizing on Qatar’s political office as their official address; but the Afghan government is yet to recognize this office.
  • Contradiction between private interests and the Peace Process: the peace process, to a large extent, is considered as a commercial deal. Since the very beginning of the peace process, whenever the peace process has put the interests of some individuals at risk, they have tried to create obstacle on its way.
  • Failure of the High Peace Council: the failure of the HPC is also another factor that has delayed maintenance of peace in Afghanistan.

 

Conclusion

Considering the current situation, Quadrilateral Peace Talks seems to be failed and the Afghan government has boycotted it and meanwhile, the Afghan government has prioritized war over peace; therefore, early initiation of the peace process seems problematic in such conditions.

Given the experiences of Karzai’s and current governments, in order to initiate face to face talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, it is essential to instigate these talks from Taliban’s Political Office in Qatar and to create a third-part neutral Afghan mediator group to pave the way for these talks.

The End

[1] For further information see this news: http://1tvnews.af/fa/news/afghanistan/21836-2016-04-19-05-37-16

[2] Tolo News, Kabul blast death toll rises to 64, see it online: http://www.tolonews.com/fa/afghanistan/24875-kabul-blast-death-toll-rises-to-64

[3] For Taliban’s perspective on Kabul’s deadly attack please see: http://alemara1.org/?p=47853

[4] For further information click on this link: http://alemara1.org/?p=46625

[5] Azadi Radio (RFEL), Amalyaat-e-Shafaq alayehe Shorashyan dar 10 walayat idama darad, see it online: http://da.azadiradio.com/a/27655759.html

[6] UNAMA releases civilian casualty data for the first quarter of 2016: https://unama.unmissions.org/un-chief-afghanistan-do-more-now-protect-civilians-unama-releases-civilian-casualty-data-first

[7]Azadi Radio (RFEL), Wolesi Jirga: Hokomat dar qesmate Amnyat Kunduz bayad tawaja jade kunad, see it online: http://da.azadiradio.com/a/27678699.html

[8] Tolo News, Hanif Atmar ba hadafe Jalab hamkaree ha ba Cheen safar kard, see it online: http://www.tolonews.com/fa/afghanistan/24841-atmar-heads-for-beijing-in-push-for-peace

[9] Jamhoor News, Raees Jamhoor Nashast haye Char Janaba-e Sulah ra tahreem karda ast, see it online: http://jomhornews.com/doc/news/fa/79044/

[10] See online: http://www.salamwatandar.com/Article.aspx?a=20070

[11] See Abdul Karim Khuram’s Article:

http://www.afghan-german.net/upload/Tahlilha_PDF/khuram_k_faqat_hushmani_ma_ra_nejat_medehad.pdf

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