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

Video VOA Exclusive: Poroshenko Wants Russia's UN Veto Stripped

Ukrainian president tells VOA's Myroslava Gongadze that global community would be safer if Russia's ability to play spoiler were ended More

Crime and Espionage Becoming Tangled Online

As the lines between cyber-crime and espionage blur, fighting hackers becomes harder More

Crowdfunding Helps Save Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit

Smithsonian turns to Kickstarter to raise more than $700,000 to help preserve the spacesuit worn by the first man to walk on the moon 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs