Taliban Refuse Peace Talks with Afghan Government

Last Saturday, the Taliban announced that they refuse to negotiate peace deals with the Afghan government, as long as their conditions remain unattended. According to the Taliban, all occupation of foreign troops needs to stop, merely “talks will yield no results”, Al Jazeera reports. They also mentioned in the statement that the government must order all foreign troops to evacuate and for their prisoners to be released, before talks begin. The restarted peace negotiations were to take place in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, later this week.

Last month, the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, namely representatives of Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and the U.S., held a meeting in Kabul. They were expected to hold peace talks with both the Afghan government and the Taliban. The first attempt for direct talks was held in July of last summer, but was quickly disrupted by the announcements of the death of Taliban founder Mullah Omar. The recent news came as a huge blow for the negotiations, which many anticipated would bring an end to the 15-year-old conflict.

The Taliban conquered Kabul in 1996, controlling 90 percent of the nation until the US-led invasion in 2001. Since the invasion, the Taliban has sought to re-establish its rule by overthrowing the Afghan government. While the Afghani government frequently beg the Taliban to peacefully negotiate, their President, Ashraf Ghani, has rejected the idea of making peace as long as civilians are being killed.

In October of 2015, President Obama announced the continuous presence of the U.S. abroad. Currently, 9,800 troops are positioned in Afghanistan and will reside their throughout 2016. The Afghan government is highly dependent on the strategies of their foreign forces, but it also seems to decrease their ability to make decisions. The lack of an overarching strategy for making peace goes hand in hand with the current state of the Afghan government. Since it’s 2014 presidential election, the National Unity government has yet to announce its governors or form a cabinet. As 2015 turned out to be the deadliest year since the invasion took place in 2001, the Quadrilateral group are eager to find a solution.

Ideas of how to solve this problem are varied. One of the proposals is for the Taliban to participate in national elections as an independent political party, another for them create a “southeast frontier”, where they will enjoy some degree of autonomy. These outcomes would, however, bring great challenges for both the government and Taliban, concerning concepts of power-sharing in terms of government positions and constitutional reform. The current major obstacle for negotiations to go ahead still lies in the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan. Based on the bilateral security agreements signed between Afghanistan and the U.S., troops can only be terminated followed by two years notice.

Sally Wennergren