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

Photogallery Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had earlier warned storm could be one of worst the city has ever faced More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid