Backs Turned on Peace
The fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters is fierce and bloody. The war has intensified, especially with the beginning of the withdrawal of the remaining international troops from Afghanistan. The geography of the war is expanding and the casualties on both sides are high. Both the government and the Taliban are believed to have turned their backs on peace. They decide to settle the issue unilaterally through war.
The Taliban’s recent attacks in Helmand, Ghazni, Farah and some other provinces show the group’s strong determination to seize provincial capitals and overthrow districts. Although the group had not previously spared any attempt to seize the centers, the intensity of the Taliban attacks had reduced during the peace talks. The current Taliban attacks, however, are very heavy and a sign of a change in the group’s approach.
In the new season of its war with the government, the Taliban have again resorted to car bomb attacks and major offensive attacks. The attacks have so far sought to destroy key security belts in provincial and district capitals. Elimination of people resistance forces in a number of provinces has also been another goal of these efforts. As a result, the casualties on both sides have been very high.
Government forces, while on the defensive, are also cracking down on Taliban fighters. This state of “defense and suppress” is well visible in the Helmand war. In this war, government forces, while present in a defensive position, also suppressed Taliban fighters. As a result, more than 100 Taliban fighters were reportedly killed in 24 hours in Helmand alone.
The death toll from recent Taliban attacks in Farah, Baghlan, Ghazni and Herat provinces has also been reported. Most of these casualties were caused by the group’s offensive and car bomb attacks. The high number of casualties indicates that the Taliban’s attacks on government positions and facilities have been heavy.
By carefully assessing the level of attacks, casualties on both sides, and the geography of the war, it is concluded that both the government and the Taliban are pursuing a “trigger” policy. The decision of both sides is to completely settle the issue this time through one-sided war. As a result, attacks by both sides on each other’s bases and facilities have increased dramatically.
The Taliban’s goal of clashing with government forces during the peace talks was largely interpreted as political concessions. Currently, however, the goal is toppling the government in a number of important provinces and districts of the country. The Taliban is trying to gain a certain geography for the “government” in the new season of the war. Hence, long-term domination or establishment over areas that are likely to be out of government control is an important part of the group’s goals.
Unfortunately, the international community’s efforts to prevent an escalation of violence in Afghanistan have so far been unsuccessful. The situation on the battlefield shows that both the government and the Taliban are not ready to return to the negotiating table. In particular, the Taliban, which did not accept the government’s offer of a ceasefire during Ramadan, also avoided attending a scheduled conference in Istanbul.
There is no clear plan in place to curb the violence. The international community has relied solely on the moral advice of the government and the Taliban to reduce violence and bring the two sides back to the negotiating table. Afghanistan’s neighbors, as well as regional powers, have not agreed on a common solution to the violence in Afghanistan. They are currently tightening their borders to prevent a possible influx of refugees or insurgents in the wake of Afghanistan’s further instability.
The future of Afghanistan looks bleak right now. There is also apparently no possibility of the government and the Taliban returning to principled talks. Even if negotiations take place between the two sides, it will not lead to a favorable peace agreement due to the great distance between the positions of the government and the Taliban. In such a situation, Afghanistan’s international partners and the United Nations need to think of practical plans that will prevent both sides from escalating the war. Otherwise, the war between the government and the Taliban will intensify and Afghanistan will become a hotbed of instability in the region in the near future.