In the past calendar year, the issue of peace talks between the Taliban in Afghanistan and other parties involved or disputed in the developments in Afghanistan, as in previous years, was one of the main subjects of the events in the country. Of course, this time the atmosphere was specific due to a more flexible stance by the Taliban to hold negotiations. Last year, we also witnessed the launch of talks in Russia, and two rounds of talks between representatives or leaders of Afghan political parties and representatives of the Taliban were hosted by Moscow.
Previously, Moscow hosted a meeting with a delegation comprising some of the Afghan High Peace Council and representatives from the Taliban and some of the countries of the region. The meeting was held as a regional peace conference on the topic of stability in Afghanistan. There have also been discussions between the special envoy of the United States, Zalmy Khalilzad (since he was appointed to the post), and the Taliban in Qatar. One or two rounds of these talks were also held in the UAE.
Before Khalilzad was named the US Special Representative for Afghanistan, the Undersecretary of State had been conducting the talks with the Taliban, but despite the fact that five rounds of talks between the United States and the Taliban have been held over the past year, no results have been reached. Of course, the US special envoy claims that there was an understanding between the Taliban and the United States to draft a peace plan for Afghanistan and that gradual withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the breakup of the Taliban with other terrorist groups, their attachment to the peace process, and the normalization of Taliban relations with the United States and the Afghan government have also been raised between the parties. In fact, these issues are among those cited in informal circles, including the results of the US-Taliban talks.
Meanwhile, it should not be forgotten that some regional actors, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, held meetings with the Taliban to help bring peace to Afghanistan with the Afghan government being informed. Also, during a trip to Kabul by the Supreme National Security Council Secretary, Mr. Ali Shamkhani, the issue was reiterated and formally announced by the Islamic Republic of Iran that Iran was in talks with the Taliban to help restore peace to Afghanistan.
Currently, conditions prevail over Afghanistan peace talks, part of which was cited by the Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib during his recent visit to Washington. He said the talks the United States is pursuing with the Taliban will undermine the Afghan government, as there has been no presence from the Kabul government in the five rounds of talks between the Taliban and the United States. There are concerns that the US will grant concessions to the Taliban on behalf of Afghan government in violation of the Constitution and the interests and national security of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to Kabul has said that any agreement between the Taliban and the United States should be accepted by neighbors and countries of the region. In fact, there is concern that an agreement between the Taliban and the US government may arise that is fundamentally contradictory to the stability of the region and the interests of the countries of the region.
On the other hand, Hamdullah Mohib also pointed to some concerns, saying the talk about an interim government may cause political instability in Afghanistan and challenge political gains in the country. Mohib also pointed out that Zalmay Khalilzad is eager to pursue his personal aspirations regarding the issue of peace in Afghanistan and talks with the Taliban. In fact, it has been argued that, given the American insistence on a successful outcome of the talks with the Taliban before the presidential election, Khalilzad, as an Afghan national and a US citizen, wishes to be a “viceroy” in an interim government if the negotiations succeed.
Meanwhile, the debate on an interim government has been defined in the context of this scenario: a transitional government to be formed in Afghanistan which will hold a presidential election in line with a demand by the Taliban, namely the abandonment of the current government and the coming to power of an interim government.
Generally speaking, it seems that the US intends to nominate Zalmay Khalilzad as a presidential candidate upon the coming to power of an interim government in Afghanistan. Given the lobbies the US has had over the past year with some political and ethnic currents in Afghanistan, Washington wants Khalilzad to take over the Afghan presidency as a figure that has restored peace to Afghanistan.
The escalation of this speculation in the political and social circles of Afghanistan has strongly worried political players in the country and current officials of the national unity government, on grounds that Afghanistan’s interests, security and constitution may be sacrificed in favor of Washington’s ambitious policies and realization of Khalilzad’s personal aspirations.
So, given the current situation, although in the coming days, the Loya Jirga (Grand Council) of Afghanistan will be convened, and the Taliban will also be invited to attend this meeting of Afghan elders, the prospect of peace talks with the Taliban is not so clear because the group has repeatedly announced that it will not negotiate before the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. Ultimately, given that the Taliban is the main decision maker in Afghanistan’s two-pronged war and peace, it looks like the Washington-Taliban talks on the peace issue in Afghanistan will be pursued, but it is unlikely for the Taliban to accept to enter into talks with the national unity government given stability of variables affecting Afghanistan’s political, security and social conditions.