Following the Afghan government’s agreement with the Loya Jirga’s request for the release of 400 Taliban prisoners in order to declare a ceasefire before the start of negotiations within Afghanistan, concerns were raised by the international community, particularly France and Australia, about their release. The two European countries’ opposition to the recent decision of the Afghan and US governments stems largely from Europe’s approach to a Taliban-US peace deal. As for the release of Taliban prisoners, Europe has its own approach.
One approach is security. Europe considers the Taliban a terrorist group, so it is by no means willing to accept the Taliban as an ally of the Afghan government unless it has made the necessary reforms and abandoned its terrorist activities.
The second approach has a political aspect. From the Europeans’ point of view, the Taliban’s thinking is radical, and if it is taking power in the form of a government, especially a government defined by the Taliban is one of caliphate or the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. In fact, if such a force with those extremist tendencies wants to form such a government, it is not politically acceptable to Europe.
The third aspect of Europe’s view is the human rights issue. From Europe’s point of view, the Taliban have committed war crimes, and now it is not acceptable for Europe if 5,000 of these forces are to be released, especially the 400 who are accused of war crimes.
In general, one of the criteria for conduct in the foreign policy of the European Union, or more precisely most European countries, despite their selective approach, is the issue of human rights, in the sense that in order to communicate with a country or group that they want to recognize and cooperate with, they must have the criteria of how they have behaved so far and what their basic views are. Thus, the third European yardstick in the discussion of the Taliban’s participation in power and the issue of the release of prisoners is related to human rights.
The three mentioned cases are a strategic approach, which is defined in the fourth aspect, the European tactical view of this issue. Europeans believe that if the Taliban are to take power, the US or Afghan government’s attempt to free 5,000 Taliban is tactically flawed. In fact, before the release of this number of Taliban forces, a number of other events must take place, that is, other conditions must be met, including the ceasefire and the determination of the Taliban’s position on the constitution of Afghanistan. In other words, these cases must be resolved before the release of Taliban prisoners.
Of course, one of the preconditions for the Taliban was the release of political prisoners; Five thousand Taliban against the one thousand government forces that the Taliban managed to impose on the Americans and the Afghan government. The European debate, then, is how to vote for the liberation of 5,000 forces, which, according to common sense, is an extremist, terrorist, radical and totalitarian force; without significant change in their behavior.
To add to this, Europeans say that if the release of Taliban prisoners by the Afghan and US governments is to be a sign of confidence in the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, the Taliban must take further confidence-building steps. Therefore, from the European point of view, the release of 5,000 Taliban forces, even without a positive outlook for a peace agreement, is tactically very dangerous.
In addition to the above, there is another point to consider; From the Europeans’ point of view, if the goal of Afghan peace is to fight terrorism, it should be seen as a general phenomenon, not in the national interest of one or more specific countries. As they argue, if the Taliban is a terrorist group, why does the United States enter into negotiations with them? In answer to this question, it can be said that this conflict stems from the fact that each country pursues its own national interests; this national conflict within Afghanistan has challenged the Afghan-Afghan initiative.
Therefore, it seems that the Afghan government and the Taliban should learn from these events and know that the interests of Afghanistan have been sacrificed to the national interests of other countries and they themselves should move towards peace through the Afghan-Afghan initiative. Also know that most regional and international powers are not too worried about the Afghan people; Therefore, they themselves must protect the national interests and their people.
Overall, just as France and Australia have stated their opposition to the release of Taliban prisoners, Europeans in general have been skeptical of the Taliban-US peace deal, and consider it in conflict with human rights issues and the counter-terrorism process.