News / Asia

Political Settlement of Afghan War Seen as Tricky

Afghan guards of honor stand in line after raising  Afghanistan's flag during the transfer of authority in Bazarak, Panjshir province north of Kabul, Afghanistan, July 24, 2011
Afghan guards of honor stand in line after raising Afghanistan's flag during the transfer of authority in Bazarak, Panjshir province north of Kabul, Afghanistan, July 24, 2011
Gary Thomas

As U.S. troops begin their gradual paced withdrawal from Afghanistan this month, both the U.S. and the Afghan governments are making tentative explorations towards a political settlement with the Taliban, or at least some elements of it.  But the process of “reconciliation,” as it has been dubbed, is tricky.

In the post-World War II era, most wars end not with outright victory, but with a negotiated settlement. In wars far apart in time and place, like Vietnam, the Balkans, and Sudan, talking replaced the shooting.

In some cases, the talks led to an eventual permanent resolution and stability.

In others, they merely bought time for one side to extricate itself from the conflict.

Now, as U.S. troops start their gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan, the first tentative moves are being made toward political negotiations between the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and some as-yet unspecified segments of the Taliban movement.

The talks have the backing of President Obama, who said in June that Afghanistan cannot have peace without a political settlement.

“As we strengthen the Afghan government and security forces, America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban," said President Obama. "Our position on these talks is clear: they must be led by the Afghan government, and those who want to be a part of a peaceful Afghanistan must break from al-Qaida, abandon violence, and abide by the Afghan constitution.”

Andrew Wilder, a South Asia analyst with the U.S. Institute of Peace, is hopeful but says the prospects for a tidy outcome of talks are not too encouraging.

“I think there’s a lot of hurdles, a lot of complications as I don’t think it’s necessarily going to end in a nice, neat grand bargain," said Wilder. "But I think if we start pursuing different opportunities as they present themselves, some might materialize, some won’t.  But bit by bit, if we can get agreements with some of the groups within the Taliban and create some momentum, I think, I still hold out hope for a negotiated settlement.”

The U.S. strategy is to train Afghan army and police to the point that they can take over security duties, allowing U.S. forces to pull out by 2014.

At the same time as the drawdown, remaining U.S. forces will bring military pressure to bear on the Taliban to bring them to the negotiating table.

Most analysts believe the Afghan army is progressing slowly but steadily -- but that, as Andrew Wilder points out, the police lag far behind.

“Despite the billions of dollars invested now in improving the quality and quantity, the police are still in many areas viewed to be a big part of the security problem rather than the solution, and a very predatory force and a force that is actually undermining the popularity of the government rather than improving security for citizens," he said.

And it is not clear who among the various Taliban factions would be willing to make a deal or what they would demand.

Former Afghan ambassador to the United States Said Tayeb Jawad says the Taliban may not feel under pressure to make a deal.

“The Taliban are more and more under pressure, especially in the south, but they have more freedom of movement in other parts of the country," said Jawad. "They’re not perceived to be losing the war completely.  And if they are not losing, they’re not really compelled to talk because the definition of victory for the Taliban is very different than the definition of victory for the United States or the Afghan people.”

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for several recent high-profile assassinations, including those of the half-brother of President Karzai and the mayor of Kandahar.

But after the killing of the Kandahar mayor, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said the assassinations are a sign of Taliban weakness, not strength.

“I would judge that the Taliban is now damaged to the point where they can no longer conduct field operations and they have had to regroup and figure out what they can do and in some cases that has been assassinations, and again, very similar patterns in Iraq," said Crocker. "Clearly these are horrific attacks, but they can also be interpreted as a significant organizational weakness on the part of the adversary.”

Analysts say the Taliban will seek to exploit any perceived weakness in the Afghan government, including corruption, which was highlighted in the latest scandal that hit the country’s top financial institution, the Kabul Bank.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid