Afghan President Ready for Peace Talks With Taliban

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani has responded to the Taliban’s official offer for peacetalks with the government whose aim is to put an end to a war which has raged since the US led 2001 regime change war against their former Taliban allies.

Ghani has stated,

“We are making this offer without preconditions in order to lead to a peace agreement. We will consider the Taliban’s view in the peace talks. The Taliban are expected to give input to the peace-making process, the goal of which is to draw the Taliban, as an organization, to peace talks”.

This could potentially be the first step in ending the long war between the government in Kabul and the Taliban who have regained the support of many of Afghanistan’s ethnic Pashtuns, the largest ethnic group in the country who make up 42% of Afghanistan’s population.

The Taliban recently wrote a similar open letter to the American people, calling on them to pressure Washington into engaging in a multi-party peace process. While Washington continues to send mixed signals, it remains the long term strategic goal of the US to prohibit a genuine peace settlement in Afghanistan for reasons that the US prefers not to admit in public.

The following is a list of the long-term goals the US has which cannot be fully accomplished without perpetuating the long standing conflict in Afghanistan:

1. Attempt and prevent a much needed rapprochement between Pakistan and Iran, by reviving old areas of dispute regarding an Afghan settlement. 

2. Make sure to get US hands on as many Afghan resources as possible, including minerals, poppies (as cultivated in the lucrative narcotics trade) and precious metals. 

3. In the event that the US is unable to obtain Afghanistan’s resources, make certain that countries like China are not allowed to do so by using an endless US military presence in the country to disrupt any One Belt–One Road links through Afghanistan. 

 4. Use Afghanistan as a terrorist base from which to launch attacks on Pakistan’s strategically important Balochistan province, which is home to the Chinese built Gwadar Port. 

5. Use Afghanistan as a terrorist base from which Daesh and other Takfiris can enter Iran.  

6. Use US control of the roads in Afghanistan to sow further conflicts between India and Pakistan, using Iran’s Chabahar Port’s proximity to Afghanistan to trap Iran into taking an overly pro-Indian side vis-a-vis the longstanding Indo-Pak disputes, due to Indian investments in Chabahar.  

These are the complex but self-evident reasons that the US refuses to leave Afghanistan even though for the American public of all political persuasions, mission creep has metamorphosed into war fatigue which in turn has metamorphosed into collective disengagement. While the wars in Syria and Iraq fill headlines internationally, the war in Afghanistan is a largely forgotten war for those outside of the region.

While many of the US goals, particularly in respect of sowing discord between Pakistan and Iran are already showing signs of failure, if the US can even partially realise their devious goals in Afghanistan, received wisdom in Washington is that it was ‘worth while’.

For Afghanistan itself, the country is trapped in a helpless position–caught between the potentially positive inevitability of an all-party peace process, which is negatively off-set against the fact that moderate elements of the Taliban will not come to the peace table being set by Russia and China until the US vacates the country.

In order to exacerbate this tension, many suspect the US has and will continue to airlift Daesh terrorists from the Levant to Afghanistan. Today’s announcement from Iran merely confirms what many already suspect and what some claim to have documented. Such a scenario not only worsens the security situation in the country, but from the calculating US perspective, it will cause a prolonged three way fight between the government, Taliban (and other local rebels) and Daesh.

The US is also counting on Daesh in Afghanistan causing internal rifts among radical elements of the Taliban. Most importantly, the US could use Afghanistan as a base to send Daesh terrorists into Pakistan’s Balochistan Province where the Chinese built Gwadar port is located. The love affair between the US and India could be used to supply such terrorists with Indian intelligence about Balochistan, as Delhi has long been accused of aiding terrorism against Pakistan in the region. The US could likewise attempt to get Daesh terrorists into Iran, although Iran’s Afghan border is generally more stable than the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which the US has frequently attacked without mercy, in spite of an increasing number of official protests from Islamabad.

It is a potentially gruesome situation where the only solution is for increased unity between Pakistan, Iran, China and Russia. It is in the interests of all four countries to push for both a peace process and a concerted anti-terrorist security presence in Afghanistan, even as the US remains in the country. Such a process will be difficult, but by trying to make a peace as inevitable as the lingering US war, there is a chance that Afghanistan’s two unwelcome ‘guests’, the US and Daesh, might both be kicked out.

Thus, while Kabul and the Taliban appear to be ready for initial negotiations, the US will likely continue to provoke conflicts in order to retard the progress of these talks for its own geopolitical and economic gain and to the detriment of all Afghans.

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