The Taliban are jeopardizing a golden opportunity

The intra-Afghan talks are a golden opportunity for the government and Taliban to end the war through dialogue. This opportunity was made possible for both sides thanks to the US decision to withdraw from the Afghan war. If the United States had not acted to withdraw from Afghanistan, this chance might not have arisen. It is up to the government and the Taliban to appreciate this golden opportunity and use it for the benefit of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Negotiating a political future and sharing power between the warring parties is a complex and difficult task. However, this negotiation cannot be so complicated and difficult that it is impossible to enter into a discussion on the main issues for almost five months. The first round of the talks focused on basic and marginal issues. The second round, as agreed to by the two sides, began a month ago. The main issues were to be discussed during this round. However, this has not been done so far due to the Taliban killing time by going on a political tour. The meetings since the start of the second round of talks have taken place in a completely cold atmosphere, with the talks being merely introductory, rudimentary, and ineffective. For this reason, during the month since the start of the second round, no serious and useful discussions have taken place between the government and Taliban delegations.

Meanwhile, the Taliban delegation traveled to Pakistan, Iran, and Russia in an attempt to push the intra-Afghan talks to the brink of failure. In the second round of talks, the delegation wasted many days in Pakistan, keeping the Afghan government delegation waiting for the start of the talks in Doha. When the Taliban delegation returned to Qatar from Pakistan, it left for Iran without appearing at the negotiating table. At the same time, some members of the delegation went to Russia without paying regard to the presence of the Afghan government delegation in Qatar. After this lengthy absence since the Taliban delegation traveled to Iran and Russia, Qatar has reportedly prevented them from returning to the country under the pretext of the coronavirus. The two Taliban groups may not return to Qatar any time soon. This will only waste more time in the negotiations.

The Taliban delegation has greatly damaged the intra-Afghan talks through its regional trips. One of the impacts is the general sense if despair about these negotiations. Most Afghans have concluded that negotiations with the Taliban are futile and that the group must be suppressed. Perhaps, for this reason, the government is preparing to crack down on the group even further in the spring.

The campaign of assassinations conducted by the Taliban has also sparked global outrage. A few days ago, the European Union clearly expressed its dissatisfaction with the actions of the Taliban in recent months, and warned that if the Taliban did not reduce the level of violence and engage in meaningful negotiations, it would face global consequences. This is a serious warning, and to underestimate it is to play with fire.

The Taliban have even jeopardized the Doha Agreement by delaying and breaking commitments. The possibility of a revision of this agreement is very serious given the realities of the Afghan battlefield. A delay in the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan is another possibility that is being discussed these days. If the situation does not change in favor of peace in Afghanistan, new decisions may be taken by the United States and its NATO allies. The consequences of these decisions will be severe for the Taliban, which wants the withdrawal of foreign forces.

The High Council for National Reconciliation officially criticized the Taliban yesterday, accusing the group of making excuses and wasting time. This marks the end of the organization’s patience with the Taliban over the past month. If the Taliban do not want to return to negotiations and continue to disregard the Afghan government delegation, the next choice of the High Council for National Reconciliation could be to withdraw from the negotiations. If this happens, the Taliban will be under more political and military pressure. This will exacerbate the violence on the one hand and miss the current opportunity for peace on the other.

The Taliban should not use time-wasting tactics for extortion and gain. Likewise, war should not be seen as a tool for political gain. Recourse to time-consuming diplomacy and the tools of war will not benefit the group because concessions for the Taliban are no longer possible. “If this group relies more on this kind of diplomacy, it will inadvertently set the stage for their political suicide.” There is no better chance for this group than the current one to integrate themselves into society with dignity and participate in political power. At present, both the government, the nation, and the international community are convinced of the need to make peace with this group. This is a golden opportunity that should not be wasted by the Taliban thanks to unprincipled behavior. If the Taliban is once again presented as a vicious, insecure, and irreconcilable group, there is no doubt that the option of eliminating this group will once again be on the agenda. This is a possibility that the Taliban must not ignore in its calculations.