New Round of Negotiations Must be Flexible

The government and the Taliban’s desire to resume peace talks was announced on Eid al-Fitr days. The Afghan government delegation is scheduled to leave for Doha today to resume the talks. The delegations of the two sides have not yet announced the start time of the talks after several months of break.

The return of the government and the Taliban to the negotiating table should be considered favorable. It is expected that these negotiations, as in previous rounds, will not be used to kill time and on bragging or futile discussions. This time, the two sides must seriously discuss peace-related issues. The intentions of both parties must be the progress of the negotiations and the achievement of a reasonable and acceptable result from these negotiations. Otherwise, the resumption of negotiations will not help the peace process.

At the height of the fighting, the government and the Taliban plan to revive the talks is promising news. The wars that took place after the cessation of negotiations and are still ongoing, had left people deeply disappointed with the future. These wars, while inflicting heavy casualties, heralded a bad future for Afghanistan. People thought that the door to negotiations was closed forever and that they should be prepared for another war or try to flee from it. The resumption of talks, however, will give people hope for the future again, and it is expected that this time people are not to be disappointed.

Afghanistan is in a very bad situation. On the one hand, coronavirus outbreak has made life bitter for the people, and on the other hand, drought has caused poverty and displacement. The war, however, is a double-edged sword that has been imposed on the Afghan people for decades. If deadly coronavirus or drought are not under human control, at least war can be curtailed or its end agreed upon. This is something that is under the control of both sides of the war and must be agreed upon at the end, given the special situation in Afghanistan.

The war between the government and the Taliban in May showed that neither was able to defeat the other. Neither the Taliban nor the government were able to eradicate the other. Of course, the consequences of this war were already clear, and that was that neither side could completely eliminate the other and had no choice but to make political compromises. Therefore, the immediate end of this war should be the main goal of the government and the Taliban through dialogue and agreement on the future.

The Taliban should not use negotiations as a trap to control the Afghan government and people. The group has previously sought to deceive the world through the negotiations, thereby concealing its hostile intentions against the government. The Taliban are mistaken if they desire the collapse of the government and uses the negotiation to hide it their intent because there is no possibility of the government’s fall and it is not possible for the Taliban to continue on with this trick. This time, the people of Afghanistan are waiting for the objective and immediate results of these negotiations and will not be deceived by the trap of shadow negotiations.

The government faction must also address its weaknesses. With the political turmoil seen on the part of the government, it is unlikely that its delegation will achieve a tangible result at the negotiating table. This delegation needs the serious support of all institutions and activists in the republic, and its agenda must be very clear. If one is set is to beat the drums of war and another is call for peace, the government will lose both war and peace. The only way to prevent this loss is unity of opinion and cooperation between the various groups and institutions active in the republic. This unity of opinion, known as political consensus, must be addressed as soon as possible.

Finally, it should be emphasized that the return of the government and the Taliban to the negotiating table is a good thing. The delegations of the government and the Taliban in this round should start negotiations in accordance with the existing realities and the common interests of the two sides, and their goal should be to reach a favorable agreement. This requires the necessary flexibility in the positions of both sides. Otherwise, their negotiations will end this time without any results and the violence will intensify again.