Russia has hosted talks aimed at brokering peace and ending the war in Afghanistan. The peace talks saw Taliban delegates and members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (H.P.C.) coming together in Moscow to discuss reconciliation efforts and resolve the destructive conflict that has been ongoing within the country for 17 years. The peace talks saw Russia as a nation, with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov acting as a mediator and driver in establishing peace within Afghanistan. As well as hosting members of the Taliban and H.P.C. delegates, other key actors in the conflict attended the talks, such as India, Pakistan and Iran, as well as U.S. delegates.
India’s foreign ministry spokesman, Raveesh Kumar, notes of India’s presence at the peace talks, “India supports all efforts at peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that will preserve unity and plurality, and bring security, stability and prosperity to the country.” While these talks were a landmark in terms of advancement towards peaceful resolution to a long and extensive conflict, the Taliban representative Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai made clear that the Taliban “does not recognize the current government as legal and therefore we won’t hold talks with them.” This reaffirms the Taliban’s position that it will not hold direct talks with the Western-backed government in Afghanistan.
While there were no significant practical breakthroughs in terms of resolving the conflict in Afghanistan, the meeting was attended by representatives of 11 countries, including delegates from the H.R.C. and the Taliban. This is considered a successful step towards brokering peace, given the hostilities between many of the major regional players and the Taliban. From conflict within the internal politics of the nation to hostilities with India and Pakistan, the arrangement of peace talks that were actually attended is a step in the right direction. This is not to deny the complications and hindrances to peace that come from the refusal of direct communication between the Taliban and the government in Kabul, which will ultimately not improve conditions within the country for the average citizen.
The war in Afghanistan has been raging on for 17 years, since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001. A significant player within this conflict has been the U.S., establishing the fact that any peace plan would require close liaison with the U.S. military. In 2017, according to The Washington Post, President Trump doubled the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Since, the U.N. has reported that the number of civilians killed has reached a record high, with some 1,692 fatalities recorded.
Ultimately, the peace talks hosted by Russia have played a significant role in establishing a dialogue which favours peaceful resolution. As humanitarian organizations have employed within their own work in conflict situations for decades, peaceful resolution requires dialogue with all parties in the conflict, including Non-State Armed Groups and terrorist organizations. The protection of civilians in Afghanistan is paramount, and is one which has been overlooked for 17 years too long. While the resolution of conflict can be a tenacious one, the negotiation of peace talks can without a doubt be the only step forward for Afghanistan, and all players within the conflict must continue along this path.
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