The Taliban and Afghani government agreed to a ceasefire during the Eid festivities ending the holy month of Ramadan. However, following the end of celebrations, Taliban officials announced the continuation of militant operations despite the announcement of a ten-day extension of the ceasefire by officials from Afghanistan’s government. Two major attacks occurred during the ceasefire. On June 16th 2018, a suicide bomber claimed by Da’esh killed 36 people and injured 65 more. The following day after, another suicide bomber, expected to be claimed by Da’esh as well, killed at least 10 people, according to Washington Post correspondents in Afghanistan. The end of the Eid ceasefire continues the war in Afghanistan that has been ongoing for 17 years.
The Taliban announced they would order the insurgent to continue the fight against, “the foreign invaders and their internal supporters.” Additionally, they said, “Our ceasefire was announced for the peacefulness of the people … but it ends this evening.” Although the Taliban leadership insist on the continuation of the conflict, reports from insurgents are split. On the fight, Belal Ahmad Hotak said, “we are tired of war. The entire nation is tired of war. Soldiers and police officers are our brothers.” He, among others, supported the truce and wished the Taliban leadership would extend it in compliance with the Afghani government. On the other hand, other fighters said the group would stop fighting if foreign troops leave. Some believe the current government is a puppet government for the West and would not stop fighting until an Islamic government was restored in Kabul. Shah Hussain Murtazawi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said, “Even during the cease-fire, the forces are on high alert and there is readiness for any kind of attack.”
The Taliban leadership have been accused of secret negotiations with Afghanistan’s current government, but they have denied such things and have maintained their demands are supported by the people. The Taliban claim to continue to fight for the expulsion of foreign fighters and the establishment of a genuine Islamic government. United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that “the US stands ready to work with parties to reach a peace agreement and political settlement that brings a permanent end to this war.” Following 17 years of conflict, the United States is seen as invaders in the eyes of citizens throughout Afghanistan, as well as the active insurgent groups.
The Eid ceasefire is the first halt of conflict in Afghanistan since the United States invaded in 2001. It supports the notion that the Taliban and government are tired of fighting and possibly foreshadows the beginning of official peaceful negotiations. Although the United States continues to operate drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the fight against global terrorism, it must begin to shift its strategy in the wake of a potential opportunity to support peace in the region. Recently, the U.S killed a Taliban leader in Pakistan, which has once again alienated the United States from partaking in possible peace negotiations with Taliban leadership. If the United States aims to play a role in an Afghan peace process, they must prepare to agree to concessions that may interfere with the current military regional strategy and positioning.
When the United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, their goals were to disband the Taliban government, defeat Al-Qaeda insurgents in the country, and establish a democratic government. However, despite the American military’s success, the country has been unstable and continues to fight a Taliban insurgency. The situation in Afghanistan became more complicated when ISIS rose to power in the Middle East and South-West Asia. ISIS has been responsible for many deadly attacks in Afghanistan, including those targeting Taliban officials. The conflict in Afghanistan has claimed roughly 100,000 lives of soldiers and insurgents, and around 31,000 civilians.
The ceasefire for Eid al-Fitr festivities was an extraordinary evolution of the conflict in Afghanistan, but the war now continues back into violence. Both members of the Taliban, and those living around the Kabul government, have expressed their desire for peace. However, without direct dialogue between the warring parties, the military operations will continue as they have for years.