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Peace Talks; From Washington’s Hastiness to Kabul’s Slowness

Kabul’s fear cannot be concealed from another thing as well, and that is the interim government.

The peace process, talks among the involved parties, and Afghanistan’s political destiny are all moving towards a path which one can hardly give a firm decree and a final analysis about them. On the one hand, there are hopes and expectations that have been created so far and on the other, there is a huge disappointment within its hidden layers.
Fresh changes occurred in the region. The United States, China, Russia, the European Union, India and the neighboring countries of Afghanistan; all agree on bringing peace and talks with Taliban – although at the level of their defined interests.

Changes in the region and world;
1- Many changes have recently taken place in the region and world which are either directly related to peace in the country or were parallel to it.
Moscow conference was held by Russia’s efforts. One of the key parts of the summit was the presence of Taliban delegation and the absence of Afghan government. All countries invited to Moscow summit emphasised on resolving the Afghan conflict through negotiations.
2- The Geneva conference was hosted by the United Nations and the government of Afghanistan. NATO member states as well as the European Union, in addition to, reviewing the National Unity Government’s 4-year record, retreated their commitments on Afghanistan. The Afghan government announced its negotiating team and the participants of the conference accentuated that the only solution to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan is negotiation with the insurgents.
3- After the Geneva Conference, the Afghan government declared the members of the peace advisory board which it includes prominent Jihadi and ethnic faces.
4- International Islamic Unity Conference was held in Tehran. The representatives of more than 100 Islamic countries participated at the conference. From Afghanistan, the second deputy to the Executive Directorate Mohammad Mohaqiq and former Afghan president Hamid Karzai were invited to the meeting. Hamid Karzai, in a meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister M. Jawad Zarif, stressed on the Afghan-led peace process. The Islamic Republic of Iran also emphasised on peace in Afghanistan and endorsed a peace process led by Kabul.
5- The trilateral dialogue of Afghanistan-Pakistan-China was held at the level of Foreign Ministers in Kabul. The Chinese FM Wang Yi stressed on confidence building between Afghanistan and Pakistan and described Islamabad’s role in the peace process as destiny-making. The Pakistani FM also emphasised on confidence building between the two countries as well as to avoid blaming each other in the political arena. “peace in Afghanistan is in favor of Pakistan,” he said.
6- Zalmay Khalilzad has made three rounds of a trip to the region for peace talks. Although the trips have some major defects, the United States – after one and a half decade – prepared to negotiate with Taliban and regional countries about peace in Afghanistan. Khalilzad insists on two points in his trips; a rushed peace deal and saving America from Afghanistan’s quagmire.
7- US and Taliban are expected to negotiate tomorrow (the meeting will be held on Dec. 17 in UAE). This round of talks brokered by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The seven mentioned cases are directly related to the peace process and seem to stir up the peace and its outcome. But besides these, there are some internal issues both from the Afghan government and from the Taliban that threaten the peace talks.
Taliban – as one side of the reconciliation – have repeatedly emphasised on the illegitimacy of Kabul government. They consider America as the side to negotiate. Withdrawal of Americans, as well as the re-definition of the political equation in Afghanistan, are part of their conditions for talks.
Although Kabul indicates that it is ready for talks, it is believed to be unwilling to do so. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has once said that five years are needed to establish peace. Five years is exactly the duration of the presidential term in Afghanistan, and the government wants to remain in power for another five years by playing hide and seek regarding the peace process.

Kabul’s fear cannot be concealed from another thing as well, and that is the interim government. In an interview with a foreign media outlet, former president Hamid Karzai has talked about delaying the election and an interim government which undoubtedly does not appeal to the presidential palace. The issue of suspending the presidential election has earlier posed by Khalilzad, some political movements such as National Consensus and Change, and even the Taliban. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has also accused the government of playing with the peace process as it did with the election process. So, despite the government’s claim, no political stream within the government agree with the presidential palace on how to move the peace talks. As the saying goes, “to dole from a caliph’s purse”.

Therefore, taking into consideration the ongoing game in the region and inside the country, the presidential palace (ARG) seems unwilling to the issue of negotiations and reconciliation. The peace process is an excuse to reach power for another five years. President Ghani has well understood that if he accepts the outcome of talks between the US and the Taliban, he must put power aside; something unacceptable to him.

The author believes, the US’s efforts, rushing to reach a peace deal with the Taliban and the complicated game of the presidential palace with it, looks like parallel lines which never cut each other and go to the dark. Now in the current situation, it is a burden on the political parties, national figures, and the independent civil institutions to prevent ARG’s hide and seek games and not allow the United States – in opposition with ARG – to reach an agreement with the Taliban that eliminates the whole achievements of the current system overnight and eventually to get to the point where we stood in 2001. Washington’s hastiness multiple with Kabul’s slowness is by no means in favor of the establishment, society, and future of Afghanistan.
Shokohmand – DID Press Agency
Translated by Taher Mojab

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