News / Asia

Experts Disagree Over Prospects for Peace Talks in Afghanistan

Afghans walk pass the derbies at the site of a bomb explosion in Laghman province east of Kabul, Afghanistanm, June 11, 2011.
Afghans walk pass the derbies at the site of a bomb explosion in Laghman province east of Kabul, Afghanistanm, June 11, 2011.
Meredith Buel

Some South Asian analysts say momentum is building towards a political process designed to lead to negotiations to pursue a peace settlement in Afghanistan.  But other experts are warning it could take years before reconciliation between the warring forces could occur.

U.S. Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Vikram Singh says at some point there has to be a political resolution to the Afghan conflict.

Singh says State Department officials believe the surge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan has helped set the stage for a political process that is more hopeful now than at any time in the pas “Does that mean we think peace is on the horizon, that there is going to be the Taliban, President [Hamid] Karzai and the Pakistanis and we all sit down and we will pretty quickly work this out and it will be great and next year this time we will all be celebrating?  No.  We do not think this is going to be easy," he said.

News reports say officials from the Obama administration have engaged in exploratory talks with representatives of the Taliban, although such discussions are said to be preliminary.

U.S. officials say any settlement must result in an end to violence by the Taliban, an agreement by insurgents to conform to the Afghan constitution and respect for the rights of women and the rule of law.

Vikram Singh says the international community has reached what he calls a critical time in the overall effort to bring stability to Afghanistan. “What we are doing is in support of a political process, that we are open to a political process.  I wish I could tell you that [the] political process was underway.  It is not yet, but it is tangible, it is close, it needs a lot of critical thinking," he said.

News reports say U.S. officials believe the death of Osama bin Laden last month in Pakistan could facilitate progress in talks with the Taliban.

Hamish Nixon coordinates a research project on the possibilities of a peace process in Afghanistan at the U.S. Institute of Peace.  “U.S. policy is shifting incrementally towards a situation which accepts not only the necessity, but the necessity of mapping out in more detail the kind of process which would likely be successful," he said.

Center for a New American Security analyst Andrew Exum served on active duty in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He says allied commanders in Afghanistan do not believe there is likely to be any peace agreement with the Taliban in the near future.

“The U.S. military, at least, and the NATO ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) command looks at reconciliation, meaning an enforceable accord, as being quite far away.  And therefore it has put a low priority on reconciliation, as far as I can see it, and more on the reality I think it sees, 'We are going to be fighting a persistent insurgency in Afghanistan for some time now, beyond 2014," he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama and NATO have set 2014 as the date to end a withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan and turn over responsibility for security to Afghan forces.

Earlier attempts to open talks with the Taliban failed when an alleged insurgent leader, secretly flown to Kabul from Pakistan, turned out to be an imposter.

Former Afghan interior minister Ali Jalali says it is difficult to identify Taliban leaders who may be willing to negotiate. “Nobody knows so far who is in charge, who is speaking for the Taliban," he said. "Who are the legitimate interlocutors?”

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior associate Ashley Tellis specializes in South Asia affairs.  Tellis says the only incentive the insurgents have to negotiate would be if there is a fundamental change in the balance of power that threatens their goal of toppling the current Afghan government.

“I think at the moment there has been progress made in terms of weakening their capacities, but it has not been sufficient and there is no assurance that it will be enduring.  So even if one can bring them to the table I think there is simply no deal to be had right now," she said.

Analysts say any peace talks that could lead to a settlement of the Afghan conflict must include Pakistan, where many Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding.

Analyst Moeed Yusuf is the South Asia advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “What is Pakistan trying to do?  I think a clear message over and over, 'Start reconciliation now.'  If you do it now we have the best chance of bringing these people to the table.  If you delay it things will actually get out of control," he said.

The United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan have begun high-level trilateral talks to discuss the process of reconciliation.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs