by Monira Nazmi Jahan;
The “U.S-Taliban Peace Deal” is one of the most important agreements that came to pass in the recent times. World leaders have already started analyzing the agreement meant for stopping the decades of conflict.
However, the main issue which is overshadowing all of the other analyses is – how much actually this deal is capable of bringing peace in Afghanistan. Such idea of political analysts is not unjustifiable altogether. At least analyzing the history of Afghan-US relationship conveys such indication.
Talking about the history, in 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and took control of Kabul, the capital, and other portions of the country. The Afghans terming themselves the mujahedin rebelled against the Soviets. Some Arabs, like Osama bin Laden, came to help in this “jihad” against the Soviet invaders. The US and its allies including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan assisted the mujahedin by providing weapons and other support.
One of the most significant reasons behind the presence of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan was the fear regarding the former USSR. The USA created a force named Taliban by directly assisting them with ammunitions and money to prevent USSR domination.
At one point, the US supplied them the latest “Stinger Missile” which could be carried by shoulder to launch and destroy airplane. With overt assistance from the USA, the Taliban became successful at averting dominance of the USSR one time. But, the force which was formed by means of American aid turned against America in the evolution of time.
The Taliban which was formed with America, assistance to chase the Soviets out interestingly became the source of pain for America. As a result, America initiated war against the Taliban in the form of war on terror.
“Operation Enduring Freedom” began on October 7, 2001 with allied air strikes on Taliban and al Qaeda targets. The United States linked the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to al Qaeda, a group that operated under the Taliban regime’s protection in Afghanistan.
On December 28, 2014, the US and NATO end their combat mission with Afghanistan through an official ceremony. After more than 13 years of combat operations in Afghanistan, the US begins Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) on 1st January 2015.
It was started to conduct counterterrorism operations targeting terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the local ISIS affiliate and also focuses on building up local Afghan security forces to help fight the Taliban.
America also had to pay heavy toll in the war that has gone on for about more than one and a half decade. According to the US government, at least 100,000 US soldiers were in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2012, for which 100 Billion USD was spent.
Between 2016 and 2018 their annual expenditure was 40 billion dollars. From the estimation till September 2019, it is acknowledged that this year 38 billion dollars have been spent.
The United States Department of Defense says – from October 2001 till September 2019, US administration in Afghanistan has spent 778 billion dollars for military cause. Along with it the US State Department, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other government agencies have spent 44 billion dollars more for reconstruction projects. Since the Afghan war started in 2001 until now, the U.S.A has expended 822 Billion USD.
To lead this lengthiest war in history is gradually becoming very challenging for America. Before this, the US administration was forced to accept a disgraceful defeat reluctantly as public pressure was tremendous upon them after about 53 thousand soldiers were killed in the 10 year long Vietnam war.
On the other hand, the US-led NATO force has been seeking a way to escape the war of Afghanistan for a long time. The US also had to wrap up swiftly and leave Vietnam-North Korea.
Geographically although Afghanistan is a rough, barren, desert-like, mountainous, impassable country, but it is abundant in valuable mineral resources including oil and gas. For this reason many foreigners have their greedy eyes set on this country through different times.
The British imperialists and in near past the Soviet invaders could not excerpt even minimum benefits, let alone dominating the region. In that case, it is not astounding that the US force should fail and be utterly distraught. From both the cases of military and morality, the US led NATO force could not match up to the Taliban.
The Afghan Taliban continued their action against strong opposition by adopting the strategy of ‘attrition’ which attributes constant stream of attacks and slowly defeat the other side. The motive should be to make it costly for the opposing party to fight that what we have seen exactly US did.
Moreover, Taliban are insurgents who denied the legitimacy of the government and try to establish their own rules by attacking the oppositions. Finally, the ultimate military force of the world had to accept defeat as the British force of 19th century.
In the continuity of this failure, many discussions with the Taliban have taken place in Doha of Qatar since 2018. At the end, on the last 29th February the US administration reached to a consensus with the Taliban.
According to this agreement, in Afghanistan the Taliban will abide by the conditions stated in the agreement for the next 14 months. If the Taliban conforms to the agreement through the given period of time, then the US will enter into a final agreement with Taliban in Afghanistan and will withdraw their troops from there.
Interestingly, on December 9, 2019, a paper based on ‘confidential documents obtained by The Washington Post’ reveal that, US officials acknowledged that their war fighting strategies were fatally flawed, and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.
It is evident from the past that terrorist organizations adopt several strategies among which ‘spoiler’ are one of them. We should not forget that, under Afghan Taliban there are other terrorist organizations who are used to with violence and they might not agree with the terms of America or Afghan government. And they might try to disrupt the peace talk.
Probably the best, and most painful, example of this in recent times is the use of terrorism during the 1990s. And the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. This was a time of great hope. Yasser Arafat, who was leading the Palestinians, was negotiating with Israeli officials. There were series of bombings done by Hamas, and Palestine Islamic Jihad, to disrupt the negotiations.
Similarly, since the agreement took place, several incidents of violence have occurred in Afghanistan and also there has been an occurrence of US air strikes.
On 6th of March, gunmen headed an assault against a public gathering led by opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah. IS accepted the charge of this assault. In such circumstances, doubts are rising regarding the future consequence of US-Taliban agreement.
The most vulnerable actor and focal player of this agreement would be the US dependent present Afghan government. As IS already accepted the charge of attacking Abdullah Abdullah, they might consider Afghanistan as another home for terrorism.
There are many things in this agreement which are not stated explicitly. How the system of governance would be in Afghanistan at the later time, especially if NATO forces are withdrawn as per the agreement, to what length the present regime of Kabul would hold the power then – is not unambiguous yet. Immediately after the agreement was signed, a statement made by the present Afghan President Ashraf Ghani clarifies how much they are optimistic regarding this agreement.
The conditions of the agreement include that the 5,000 Taliban militants, who are imprisoned by the Afghan government, must be released.
On the other hand, although the Taliban shows so-called “sympathy” to Democracy, but their ultimate motive is to implement the “Shariyah Law”.
Hence, there is ideological decisive conflict between present Afghan government and the Taliban. The present regime also has strife regarding women leadership and rights of women. Therefore, how much the talk of sharing power with the Taliban is realistic – that raises doubt, as it is impossible for the Taliban to be diverted away from their ideology. Even if they want to turn themselves away for the purpose of peace, then clash would induce among themselves.
Above all, it seems after analysis that the key issue of crisis in this agreement would be the matter of compromise between the Taliban and the present Afghan government.
Because, the existing internal conflict between the two groups would be prolonged as there is no framework in the agreement regarding the relationship or compromise between the two groups which have absolutely two different mentalities and which believe in two opposite ideologies.
As a result, even after the peace deal has been signed between US and the Taliban, it would be meaningless. For the purpose of their peace, how much the two groups would be earnest to resolve those troubles, that only future will tell. The ultimate goal should be peace for the citizen of Afghanistan by not making them another object of violence.