The long-anticipated peace talks between the current Afghanistan government and the Taliban appear to finally be getting underway. The government of President Ashraf Ghani’ has basically caved in and accepted all of the Taliban’s demands in order to come this far. Having previously released the majority of the prisoners they had been holding, the government will now cut loose the final ones. The Taliban, in return, has agreed to yet another ceasefire and will accept the release of the final 400 prisoners in exchange for formally beginning the negotiations later this month. Of course, prospects for the Taliban’s ability to enforce this agreement among their fighters (assuming they even intend to honor the deal at all) remain thin at best. (Associated Press)
A traditional Afghan council concluded Sunday with hundreds of delegates agreeing to free 400 Taliban members, paving the way for an early start to negotiations between Afghanistan’s warring sides.
The declaration read out in both of Afghanistan’s official languages of Pashto and Farsi calls for an immediate start to negotiations and cease fire. The Taliban have said they were ready for talks immediately after their final prisoners were released and that a ceasefire would be one of the first items of negotiations.
The move looks to bring the United States a little closer to bringing its troops home and ending its longest military engagement.
This process began back on March 10th, so it’s taken a while for Ghani’s government to move the ball this far down the field. At that time, we discussed the demands of the Taliban and their unwillingness to compromise in the slightest. Ghani’s tenuous hold on his own government was put to the test because they had been holding upwards of 5,000 Taliban prisoners.
In order to get the Taliban to even come to the table, Ghani ordered the immediate release of 1,500 prisoners immediately. More were cut loose in the following months until they were down to these final 400. From the beginning, the Taliban insisted that formal peace talks would not begin until every last one of their prisoners were freed. It now appears that they got everything they’d asked for and more. The ceasefire arranged in March lasted all of three days before Taliban fighters violated it, attacking both American troops and government forces in multiple locations.
But if it leads to lasting peace and a stable Afghanistan government, it was all worth it, right? Let’s not count our chickens before they’ve hatched. Keep in mind that before these negotiations had even gotten off the ground, a number of Taliban leaders in both their country and Pakistan openly declared that they had no intention of honoring any peace agreement that was struck. They planned to keep on fighting until the last of the infidels (that would be us) was driven from their lands the same way they eventually drove out the Soviet Union (with the help of the aforementioned infidels) several decades ago.
I’ve yet to hear from a single foreign policy expert who thinks that this peace process is entirely plausible. For the most part, I think most people can see how this story ends and it’s not pretty. Once the American and allied troops are mostly out of the country, the Taliban is going to crush Ghani’s government and begin murdering everyone who cooperated with the Americans. And then Afghanistan will sink back into the past and become the same hell hole, stuck in the 5th century that it’s always been.
This is how Afghanistan, under its many names, has always defeated invaders. They just outlast them and eventually, the foreigners lose patience and leave. Because honestly, nobody wants that stretch of territory badly enough to take and hold it indefinitely. Yes, it’s long past time that we get out of there so I’m not arguing against the current “peace” process. But we should also be realistic about what’s coming when our role in this maniacal play is finished.