About 20 years ago four planes hijacked and crashed to targets on US soil. Two of them smashed the New York trade center, one targeted the pentagon, and one has been shot downed, and crashed in Pennsylvania before reaching to target allegedly the white house building. Osama bin Laden the leader of Al-Qaeda claimed the responsibility while he has been given safe haven by the Taliban regime which was running power in Afghanistan. George W. Bush the president of the united states requested the Taliban to hand over him but the Taliban rejected and the US and its allies in NATO declared the war on terror. The US supported the northern alliance, defeated the Taliban, and toppled their regime but the Taliban had their reliable and safe havens in Pakistan and retreated to the border area of Pakistan.
During two decades, the US and its allies supported the Afghan government and security forces to fight against the resurgence of the Taliban while kept a blind eye on their sanctuaries and shelters inside of Pakistan. The Taliban got stronger as time passed and finally the US government decided to make a deal with the Taliban for a political settlement. The attempt didn’t give any result so far but at the same time uplifted the Taliban position from being a terrorist group to a strategic partner after they signed an agreement with the US in February 2020.
In contrast with the time stipulated for the US troop’s withdrawal by May first on the US-Taliban agreement, the US president Joe Biden announced to pull out the troops starting by the first of May and ending by the first of September which marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11. While both sides haven’t accomplished the stipulated condition of the already signed agreement, and the US president announcement of pulling out the troops neither have been what the United States intelligence and military officials were expecting nor the Afghan government which needs the leverage of the US on the Taliban in Afghanistan reconciliation process.
The US troops’ withdrawal in the current situation in which about 50 percent of the Afghanistan soil is under the control of the Taliban and other transnational terrorists, will face enormous challenges both for the current Afghan government and for regional security and stability.
Recently Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani in an interview with CNN about the withdrawal of the US troops said: “for us, it’s a time of opportunity and for the Taliban and for Pakistan it’s a moment of choice”, but I think the current situation is neither an opportunity and nor a threat, it’s a full-fledged uncertainty which disrupted the semi-normal life of the common Afghan citizen. This uncertainty could be effectively handled to change to an opportunity or it could develop as a bigger threat if it’s not managed properly.
In the coming months ahead the following scenarios are likely to happen. First, the Afghans were/are hopeful of the Istanbul conference and expecting that this meeting will come the Afghan government and the Taliban over the negation table together to start intra-Afghan talks and shape a new participatory government or interim government, but as this conference was supposed to be held on the 24th April because of the Taliban rejection it postponed to after the Eid-ul Fitr and Ramadan but more than one month after the Eid Ul-Fitr this conference has not been held so far. it shows that the Taliban and their lobbies in the region especially Pakistan are powerful enough to impost the will of the Taliban over 30 million innocent Afghans who are being killed every day. This delay once again strengthens the assumption of the Taliban’s goal for seizing the power by force and doesn’t believe in any peace deal and political settlement which the soaring conflict in northern provinces of the country is clear evidence.
At the best of positive thinking, it could be a valuable opportunity for both the Afghan government and the Taliban to reach a peace deal otherwise a new range of war and atrocity will start which the main victims would be the Afghan civilian as they have been in past over forty years. For the Afghan government in the time-span to the holding of the Istanbul conference, there is enough time to engage with the key players and stakeholders including Pakistan, India, China, Iran and Russia in the first circle and Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the second to convince the Taliban or leverage over them to take them to the negotiation table. A regional consensus among the key mentioned regional players will enhance the chance of reaching a deal or at least minimizing the tension to keep the horizon of political settlement open and a way out of the conflict. The absence of each of the stakeholders will harm the process and will deeply impact the sustainability of every kind of deal if was achieved any.
Second, although the current Afghan government is not the one which the Afghans are wishing to have, in comparison with the Taliban over 80 percent of Afghan people are supporting and will support the government after the withdrawal of the US troops. The government can start the basic reforms on the high-rank official position and employ the political parties and those who are thinking to be isolated. This way the government can shape quite an inclusive office to wage people’s consent all over the country by mobilizing the political parties, influential figures and individuals. The Taliban will lose their position drastically than ever before since the only reason they are waging war against the Afghan government is the foreign troop’s presence in Afghanistan, and they will lose the rationale of their justification and holy war legitimacy. Meanwhile, the Afghan security forces are quite professional and competent to hold the current territory and launch targeted raids for taking back the countrysides and cleansing of the Taliban if the foreign assistance is continuing. Also, the Afghan government has the ability and means of mobilizing the public to stand beside the security forces if it was required. At this point, the government can handle the situation appropriately and change the uncertainty to an opportunity. Also, the withdrawal itself could be an opportunity since the Afghan government will be the last decision-maker about the military operation, resource allocation in the security sector and full authority while during the foreign troops’ presence these were managed by them and even based on some Afghan soldiers and security official the operations were launching based on the foreign troops advise and authority which was slacking the effectiveness of operations.
Third, if the Afghan government and Taliban couldn’t reach any breakthrough in the upcoming Istanbul conference and also the Afghan government cannot mobilize the political forces, influential figure and address their concern and grievance then it’s more likely to predict an even worse civil war and turmoil in the country. President Ghani and his administration are facing serious dissatisfaction both inside of the Republic bloc and also with the Taliban outside of the government. He has been accused of misusing his authority and even violating the basic elements of a democratic republic state like the separation of forces as a basic prerequisite of democracy, he has ousted many ministers who have been voted by the parliament and also has kept many high-rank official and ministers which has been rejected by the parliament. At the same time, he has been accused of violating the independence of the judiciary force by the MPs and political opposition parties, these are the few to mention. The ethnic division is another acute phenomenon within the current government. The intense ethnocentric approach of the current administration has divided the people more than ever before. If president Ghani doesn’t pay attention to the grievance of the political oppositions and demands of common people yet by now many are chanting against the government and distinguish their way apart of the current administration and the Taliban and for sure they are a considerable amount of Afghanistan population for now. Based on the above-mentioned points and many more which is out of the scope of this article, the current Afghan government is facing partly with the common citizen and political forces and fully with the Taliban which is threatening all the global achievements of the last two decades. for the best of all, the first scenario is more desirable and plausible but less probable to happen, yet the second is the opportunity of the current government to handle appropriately the situation until the ball is in the court of the Arg. Otherwise, the third scenario is more likely to turn out which will plunge the country into a very terrible situation and threaten the already achievements and tremendous setback which will never recover in the near foreseeable future.
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