What's new

Taliban – A Mentality Not an Ethnicity: A Ground Report from Afghanistan

PDF

STAFF
May 1, 2015
3,051
14
4,542
Country
Pakistan
Location
Pakistan
As U.S. Warns On Withdrawal, Data Show Taliban Attacks Climb In The Past Year




In 2020, the Trump administration came to a peace agreement with Taliban leaders, promising a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in exchange for decreased insurgency in the region and better cooperation with the Afghan government. However, as the deadline of May 2021 looms closer, violence perpetrated at the hands of the Taliban is shown to be higher at this time than in previous years. While the Biden administration has not yet made clear whether the deal will hold, it is suspected that given the Taliban’s failure to meet the conditions of the agreement, the deadline will be extended or the terms re-evaluated thus extending the decades-long presence of the U.S. in the region.


The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) noted the rise in enemy-initiated attacks, going farther to add that “U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said this quarter enemy attacks in Kabul were higher than they were last quarter, and ‘much higher’ than in the same quarter a year prior.” This increased violence in the capital city is indicative that Taliban relations with the Afghan government may be increasingly strained instead of on the path to understanding. Moreover, there has been a bipartisan report published by members of U.S. Congress, acknowledging that while the U.S.-Taliban agreement was done correctly in the spirit of peace, it no longer seems realistic to reference it in meeting peace goals unless significant revisions were made to it.


This issue of whether to withdraw U.S. troops is a divisive one as many Americans have tired of a war that the country has been involved in for around 20 years. However, many feel that withdrawing would leave a vacuum to be filled by other insurgent groups like Al-Qaeda and could lead to another Afghan civil war, which would, in turn, lead to a humanitarian crisis that would have to be resolved by other intervening nations. However, it does not appear to be the case that keeping the U.S. troops in the country is leading to a decrease in attacks, as evidenced by the increase in violence. Thus there is no compelling reason to believe that a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces would be in the security interests of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.


Before proposing alternative methods to resolving the Afghanistan issue and getting back on the pathway to peace, it should be made clear that progress in matters such as these is often long and drawn out. There is no overnight fix to solve a situation that is as complex as this. Since there is no way around the time commitment involved, the next step is to find a solution that leads to the least amount of casualties and preserves the sovereignty of nations involved while still empowering the nation of Afghanistan so that it will not always lean on its allies as a crutch for military and humanitarian aid.
To that end, the first proposal is government reform for the Afghan government.

Currently, the U.S. spends around four billion dollars to fund the fight against insurgency in Afghanistan. Moreover, the World Bank notes the level of corruption present in the Afghan government and its agencies is so rampant that it has served to drive a wedge between the leadership and its people, international donors, and has resulted in a poverty level of over 72 per cent. Thus, despite the billions of dollars in aid the country is receiving, the people live in poverty, with unemployment on the rise, and the threat of war being a constant fear and reality.


The goal of obtaining peace in Afghanistan will mean nothing so long as the government is so ill-equipped to lead. Perhaps it is time to start placing conditions on the flow of aid or imposing measures to strengthen accountability between the Afghan government and its donors. As it stands, the Afghani people are the largest victims of this conflict in almost every category. To foster resentment among them will only lengthen the conflict, as they have less to fight for and can see little light at the end of this tunnel. A better standard of living and a solid promise of a safer future would serve to unite them and hopefully eliminate the risk that they could grow resentful of allies like the U.S. and be tempted to join insurgent groups or protect those in their communities known to be participating.


Following closely behind the notion of increasing accountability between donors and Afghanistan is the idea that many of the allied countries should be working closer together. According to the bipartisan report previously referenced in this article, many of the decisions made involving the U.S. military’s operations in Afghanistan are done so without consulting or notifying their NATO allies who also have a stake in the security operations of the region. The U.S. is the majority of the military presence in Afghanistan, yet that does not mean other nations, particularly those that share a continent with the nation in question, would not be concerned about regional security should the U.S. actually withdraw its troops.

To that end, it is time to have inclusive talks regarding balancing and shifting the burden. No one wants to see a failed nation-state situation and it’s time for all involved to come to a more equal footing. If the U.S. feels it is bearing the brunt of the work, it may become hostile towards its oldest allies, while those allies may begrudge the fact that they are not kept more in the loop as to security operations.


Again, any solution implemented will be a time-consuming effort. It must also be remembered that the ultimate goal is to establish peace and stability in Afghanistan. To that end, solutions that involve more violence would not be welcome here. Obliterating the Taliban through violent extremes is an unwelcome idea, while the notion of further negotiating with them and ensuring they work to keep Al-Qaeda at bay are ideas in the right direction. In the end, the country will have to hold its own but in the meantime, interested parties such as the U.S. and it’s NATO allies can serve to facilitate necessary talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in order to nail down the plan to reduce violence, reduce the Al-Qaeda presence, and squash territorial issues.


Ultimately it is hard to say what the future holds in regards to this situation. A new administration in the U.S. often means a shift from the status quo, especially where foreign policy is concerned; it will be interesting to see how the Biden administration chooses to proceed with the peace negotiations it has inherited. However, whether the U.S. troops stay or go, it is evident that neither option will be a lasting solution. If they stay, more needs to be done to hold the Afghan government accountable to its donors and to its people.

If the troops leave, then in addition to pressure being exerted on the Afghan government to end corruption, more allies, especially those on the same continent will need to better work together to handle matters of regional security. A resolution does not need to be elusive and it would appear that many parties, especially the U.S. troops and Afghan citizens have waited a long time to see the day when peace will at last return.

 

PDF

STAFF
May 1, 2015
3,051
14
4,542
Country
Pakistan
Location
Pakistan
International Consensus Needed for the Taliban’s “Non-Return Through Force”

With a May 1 deadline looming for the withdrawal of the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan, stalled intra-Afghan “peace talks” in Doha, and a dramatic rise in violence across the country marked by assassinations of the country’s civic leaders and journalists, the Biden administration is reviewing the U.S.-Taliban deal it inherited. NATO leaders, meeting toward the end of February, postponed their decision for withdrawal, awaiting a U.S. decision. Various studies and analysts have recommended delaying the troop withdrawal beyond May 1 to ensure that conditions on the ground are fertile enough for a peace settlement. However, the Taliban’s response to this dilemma has been to threaten a possible shutdown of the “diplomatic pathway” and a renewal of its war against U.S. forces. With a weak government in Kabul, and little international appetite to recommit to Afghanistan, an even bloodier spring is underway, with the people of Afghanistan as the sacrificial lamb.


At this delicate and dangerous moment, whatever policy the Biden administration chooses will affect the legacy of the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and its standing in the region and beyond. It is a choice between a messy withdrawal, where the state’s collapse is likely and a civil war would be on the Biden administration’s watch, or remaining in Afghanistan by maintaining the status quo, which means the continuation of war and ongoing civilian casualties. In either case, the Biden administration is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to Afghanistan, and the Afghan people stand to pay the ultimate price.


A recent proposal has been shared by the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad with the Afghan government and the Taliban. It aims to accelerate the “peace process” by holding a “new Bonn” conference and form a “participatory government.” The proposal has been informally rejected by both sides, however, we have yet to see any formal response to the proposal. It is argued that the initiative seems to be a new “exit strategy” for Washington and offers little incentive for the Taliban to commit to a ceasefire or a meaningful power-sharing arrangement, especially as time and the battlefield appear to be on their side. However, the crack of light in this darkness could be a U.S.-led effort to reenergize diplomatic efforts internationally and regionally to reach a strong and clear consensus that objects to the Taliban taking over the country by force, allowing it to rule over Afghanistan beyond the withdrawal of troops.


The unpopularity of the Taliban among the people of Afghanistan is well documented, as well as the failures of the Afghan government and international partners in achieving stability in Afghanistan over the last two decades. Twenty years after the intervention in Afghanistan, the United States and the international community have been signaling that it is now up to the people of Afghanistan to decide their future. This is a welcome recognition that the fate of Afghanistan belongs to her people. Still, it is important to move beyond political gestures and rhetoric and meaningfully assist the people in deciding their future. That requires conditions in which they can be heard and have the ability to influence their desirable end state without fearing the Taliban will take over militarily.


The U.S. bipartisan report of the Afghanistan Study Group briefly outlines a vision of a desirable end state suggesting “an independent, democratic, and sovereign Afghan state… that supports and protects minorities, women’s rights, the democratic character of the state, and a free press….” Such an outcome could secure the interests of the United States and its allies as well as protect the hard-won gains of post-2001 for the Afghan people.
Yet such an end state, desirable as it is for the international community and the people of Afghanistan, may not be acceptable to the Taliban, especially as it would be difficult to sell it to their fighters. Why would the Taliban, with a powerful presence in the countryside and at the negotiating table, acquiesce to an end state so similar to the current system? Unlike President Ashraf Ghani’s Republic as the “red line,” the Taliban have been tactical in setting a “red line” based on the end state but vaguely, yet consistently, demanding an “Islamic” system. They reject the current system as not sufficiently Islamic and founded under the influence of foreign occupation.


There may be two main reasons for this tactical flexibility. First, there is a strong feeling in the international community against the return of the Taliban’s Emirate in Afghanistan. The Taliban seek international legitimacy more than ever. They are tactical in being less rigid about the word “Emirate” to define their desired end state, but they are also disguising their desirable end state under the rubric of an “Islamic” system. Second, the Taliban’s Emirate, which never gained international recognition and legitimacy when it was in power from 1996 to 2001, is seen as Afghanistan’s darkest, most barbaric, and brutal era for women, minorities, and human rights in general. The Taliban are aware that they will face immense opposition from diverse elements of the Afghan population if they advertise a desire to bring about the return of their notorious Emirate.


The United States and the international community could use political legitimacy and recognition as sources of leverage to reject the Taliban’s return through force. To gain either, the Taliban should be required to commit to the desire of the people of Afghanistan — that is, a political settlement where a meaningful concession in favor of an inclusive governance structure is made and the use of force in pursuit of political goals is prohibited. Hence, the United States and the international community can tilt their support for a desirable end state by clarifying to the Taliban that a military takeover is utterly unacceptable and, under no circumstance, would it be recognized internationally.


Committing to the principle of non-return of the Taliban through force would send an important and clear message to the Taliban and the actors involved in Afghanistan’s affairs that the concept of “no military solution” is all-encompassing. It includes the Taliban too. No level of Taliban intransigence or dallying tactics should open a path for military takeover and a return of their defunct system. Short of this, a Taliban onslaught behind their traditional rural bases, and in the absence of a credible international deterrent, could result in the worst kind of civil war and mass murders. Communities who have traditionally resisted the Taliban and their ideology could once again mobilize and resist against the Taliban take over by force. The scale of violence and instability could compel another military intervention on humanitarian grounds by powerful regional States. An international consensus on “non-return of the Taliban through force” would serve two long-term purposes: It would secure the interests of the United States in Afghanistan by diminishing threats from al-Qaeda, as well as serve as a green shoot that the people of Afghanistan could use to fertilize the ground, providing stability by means beyond violence.


In the 100 years since Amir Amanullah declared independence in 1919, Afghanistan experienced various systems of governance: monarchy, republic, dictatorship, theocracy, and democracy under at least seven different constitutions. As a mosaic nation with a traditional society, with a weak state and strong community, leadership changes in Afghanistan during the past century have come about through assassinations, coups, forced exiles, civil wars, and international interventions. Throughout these rapid changes of power in Afghanistan, the legitimacy of the ruler and accountability of the system have remained problematic and renewed the cycle of conflict. Any agreement — if it gets to that stage — needs to review the political history and the emerging realities of 21st century Afghanistan. A quick lesson from a century of struggle is that stability and durable peace in Afghanistan require a practical and endogenous socio-political governance structure that is not susceptible to authoritarianism and dictatorship of any type.


The United States and the international community can at least help the people of Afghanistan on their struggle to own an end state that is dignified and not recognize one that is enforced through violence.

 

penlei00

BANNED

New Recruit

Oct 23, 2016
50
-7
44
Country
China
Location
China
As long as the United States withdraws, the current Kabul government will immediately fall. The ending seems very bloody. I was recently listening to the history of the Afghan People’s Democratic Party and the situation of the Soviet invasion. It was very bloody.
 

Dalit

ELITE MEMBER
Mar 16, 2012
14,886
-16
27,950
Country
Pakistan
Location
Netherlands

(Recommended for everyone; a very learned panel)
The panel and host forgot one very important factor that will become a major source of conflict in the future. It is the Durand line border. The Afghans in fact are channelling all their efforts in supporting terror attacks in Pakistan through India. Afghan hate for Pakistan doesn't solely stem from support for Taliban. It primarily stems from territorial claim. Afghans like Indians claim a very large chunk of Pakistani territory. Even if Afghanistan became peaceful by some miracle, their territorial dispute with Pakistan will remain. This irritant won't be removed.

Pakistan should be under no illusion. Afghanistan needs to be brought under control. It needs to be reminded its true role and position which is survival through Pakistan. All other options are a non-starter.
 
Last edited:

JohnWick

SENIOR MEMBER
Nov 13, 2018
2,965
-2
2,545
Country
Pakistan
Location
Pakistan
The Taliban may be good or bad for the Afghanistan but the happpy thing is that they are collapsing the state of India which was being built in the Afghanistan
 
Last edited:

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 1, Members: 0, Guests: 1)


Top Bottom