Why peace unattainable in Afghanistan?

Alwaght- During the past few decades, Afghanistan has been dealing with an array of internal and external crises. Even currently the country is experiencing critical conditions almost unprecedented in years and after formation of the national unity government of Afghanistan.

The deteriorated economic and living conditions, failed plans for reconstruction of the country and Development of the infrastructures, wide-ranging poverty and unemployment, the refugees crisis,  production and smuggling drugs, insecurity, security and political challenges, growing power of the Taliban, which now controls a large part of the country in north and south, rise of ISIS terror group in some regions of the country like Nangarhar province,  ongoing divides between President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s  Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, deadlock in completion of the cabinet after 20 months since forming the national government, and most importantly the expiration of the National Unity Agreement all have put dim prospects ahead of Afghanistan’s government and people.

Nevertheless, perhaps the most significant challenge of the Afghan government in the present conditions is to decide on fighting or negotiating with the militant group Taliban. The legitimacy of the national unity government is another challenge.

The fate of peace dialogue with Taliban

Concerning the talks between Kabul and Taliban, it must be noted that the militant group took part in four earlier rounds of negotiations at the behest of the US, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan itself. But, responding to the fifth request for taking part in the next round of dialogue, Taliban said that it would not attend the upcoming peace meeting because its demands were not addressed. Reiterating its conditions, the militant group has said the only ways for peace in the country are exit of the foreign forces from Afghanistan, holding free election and changing the constitution, as well as removing its name from the UN terror blacklist and freeing its prisoners.

On the other side, less than a month after releasing statement on not taking part in the fifth round of peace negotiations, Taliban has launched its spring offensive codenamed “Operation Omari” across the country, though the militant group has failed in many regions to achieve its goals, according to the Afghan officials, for seizing territory. However, it insists on going ahead with its offensive while the peace negotiations have in practice changed into a legitimizing instrument for Taliban.

In such a situation that the peace negotiations failed to end in a certain conclusion, the government and security institutions have shifted strategy, calling for suppression of the insurgent group.

Ashraf Ghani’s order for putting down Taliban indicates that the peace process has been a failure. The new strategy was approved by the national unity government only two days after a huge Kabul blast in front of the National Security Council’s headquarter and close to the building of the defense ministry of Afghanistan which killed 67 and injured 347 others.

Despite the fact that Kabul government has declared policy for battling Taliban, it doesn’t appear that fighting the militant group and defending the cities that are subject to assaults is a priority for the government of the crisis-torn country. While the fighting goes on in northern areas including Kunduz, Faryab and Jawzjan in favor of Taliban, the Afghan officials are involved in an infighting on power— a power that is even incapable of protecting the capital Kabul.

In fact, the huge blast in the heart of Kabul near the presidential residence, the defense ministry and the US embassy made it clear that Taliban is strongly determined to take on Kabul government and there are no rays of hope for the so-called peace process to be any successful.

The current status of national unity government

Another challenging issue for Kabul is the legitimacy of the national unity government. Although formation of the government was a significant step in solution of political crisis and preventing a civil war, after 20 months, some items of the agreement including holding Loya Jirga, an assembly of leaders, to amend the constitution and discussing creating the Chancellor Executive post remain undone.

After formation of the national unity government, the next step was to review the election system and hold the Loya Jirga to shift the political system from presidential to parliamentary. The prime minister post was supposed to be fixed as top legal post of the state.

While the time of the coalition government is to end in three and a half months, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah are yet at odds over some of the ministries and the country’s security body. On the other hand, the country has the parliamentary election ahead in September which is likely to be delayed due to financing issues and failed preparations.

Outlook

In a general view, it can be noted that the recent Taliban attacks on Kabul were a declaration of death of peace negotiations. Not only has Ashraf Ghani failed to make a success of the dialogue and attract Taliban into the country’s power structure but also he lost control of large parts of the country to the insurgents.

Taliban’s spring time offensive, which takes its name Operation Omari from the name of the killed leader of the militant group Mullah Omar, has seen an intensification. The group even for the first time in a decade has managed to seize control of some large and significant cities.

In such conditions talk of peace process makes no sense in practice. What is dominant now is the war which is now including the whole of Afghanistan.

Despite all of the costs paid both for battle with Taliban and negotiation with them, both of these ways have met with failure. But President Ashraf Ghani has no other way but continuing dialogue and reconciliation process with the militant group on the condition that the government relies on internal potentials and harmony between the political parties in dealing with Taliban rather than reliance on the foreign forces and the neighboring Pakistan.

On the other side, the legitimacy of the coalition government especially after expiration of the agreement between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah in the months would present an essential challenge for peace and security in Afghanistan. The political groups that approved the government coalition are insisting that legitimacy of the national unity government after two years would end in three upcoming months as time of parliamentary election arrives. This could be onset of a new political crisis in Afghanistan. However, by amendment of the election law and holding the parliamentary election in September, the Afghans could steer clear of fresh political crisis in the country.

By Alwaght