Preparing for a new season of war
Given the current state of negotiations between the government and the Taliban, it looks like the war between the two sides will enter a new chapter in the coming spring. Government forces and Taliban fighters will each try to change the current equation in their favor. The decision of US and NATO forces on the possibility of starting a new season of the war in Afghanistan is still unclear. Admittedly, the war’s main aim of fighting against the Taliban falls on Afghan forces. This war, if it happens, will probably be one of the bloodiest Afghanistan has ever fought.
The spirit of militancy can be seen on both sides. The Taliban have taken the war seriously to implement the Doha agreement though and through, and they continue to see war as the only tool that can serve them at the negotiating table.
The Taliban also claim control of most of Afghanistan’s territory, a claim that has been ridiculed by the government. The Taliban now see the need to open a new season in the war against the government to prove this claim. The group thinks that to be taken seriously in internal and external circles, it needs to prove its dominance over the territory it has claimed, which will only be possible through war.
On the other hand, the government has no choice but resistance to defend the areas under its control. At the same time, it must pursue the war more aggressively to curb the Taliban’s ambitions. As a result, government forces are preparing not to lose in the new season of the war. They will continue to try to prove the Taliban’s claim false. This can guarantee the government’s interest in future interactions.
The new season of war will follow the deadlock of the peace talks and its possible failure. The government and the Taliban do not seem to have much hope for the success of these talks in the short term. While the two sides see negotiations as the only solution, they have so far failed to put aside the war. Any negotiation that fails to guarantee the interests of both sides will intensify the war. The current state of negotiations is such that both sides are forced to turn to war.
The reason for the government and the Taliban falling into this situation is both sides sticking to their guns at the negotiating table. The government delegation does not budge from its position on the permanence of the republic and the Taliban delegation from its position of wanting to establish an emirate. Instead, the two sides have entered into bargaining rather than focusing on the realities of Afghanistan and shared interests. This kind of negotiation is unprincipled and cannot end in peace. Negotiations between the government and the Taliban can only lead to peace if the two sides focus on ways to achieve peace, given the realities of the battlefield and the lives of Afghans, and the current and future needs of Afghanistan. Standing on the position of the Emirate and its values as opposed to the position of the Republic and its values puts the two sides into a futile argument, with each in a defensive position. That is why the talks between the two sides have not opened the slightest window of hope for the people so far. Currently, the two sides are moving towards continued war after months of controversy, attack, and defense behind the negotiating table.
The only way to prevent war, widely expected to be bloody, is to return to the negotiating table by relying on the rules of principled negotiation. This also requires the active intervention of the international community. The readiness of both sides to start a new season of war is a warning message that the international community must take seriously. If the government and the Taliban are left to their own devices, there can be no doubt that the coming spring will be very deadly and bloody. This war, if it takes place, could lead Afghanistan to a catastrophe.