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Biden aims for the impossible in Afghanistan

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Biden aims for the impossible in Afghanistan

A temporary examination of US policy in Afghanistan would probably conclude that the strategy to end a two-decade-long, largely fruitless military intervention is misunderstood and misguided. This view has substantial support even among the ranks of the Washington Dovish group, which is not eager to reach an agreement with the Taliban given its history as a fundamentalist, autocratic Islamic movement with no inclination towards democracy, rights of human or personal freedom along with support for Al Qaeda and 9/11 links.

However, the overall goal of Biden’s plan is to try to end the unprecedented mission of US-led coalitions in Afghanistan by striving to establish a long-term democratic, stable and self-sustaining solution. Its current iteration includes reviving a stalled peace process using a multilateral approach through strong regional diplomacy, as well as pressure on the Kabul government led by President Ashraf Ghani to support the process and the Taliban to de-escalate attacks. her.

Efforts to create a centralized, democratically-oriented government have failed just as much as the Taliban, unbridled liberalism. Playing a game for a decentralized government, the White House is investing diplomatic and political capital in a shaky power-sharing deal between two entities that deny each other legitimacy.

An immediate departure risks instability and new conflict, jeopardizing the strategic or security interests of neighboring states like Pakistan, India and even China. Afghanistan’s proximity to Xinjiang Uyghur Muslims, for example, makes Beijing extremely cautious, worried that Taliban supremacy will help or comfort the separatist ideals of Uyghur militants.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s alleged ties to the Taliban have consistently benefited from the latter in the form of paradises in the form of Federally Administered Tribal Areas, financial and material support, and training camps perfecting the mix of conditions to support a long-term insurgency movement. . In fact, Quetta Shoura, the military wing that works closely with the Taliban leadership council, was for a time based in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

Pakistan is now said to be seeking what remains of Quetta Shura to relocate to Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, as the Taliban consolidate and reorganize ahead of intra-Afghan talks revived by the White House peace initiative and the UN-led peace process. get out of it. Whether the peace process succeeds or not, Islamabad will not risk losing its power with a stronger Taliban, especially when it enters the proposed power-sharing government, as it will be a very representative effective for Pakistan to continue to exert undue influence in Afghanistan affairs.

Conflict of interest between regional players and there are many of them is not the only concern for what the White House plans to achieve on the eve of the May deadline for the withdrawal of coalition troops from Afghanistan. Even in Washington, the administration seems divided between political appointees, wary of the American public tired of fighting forever before the 2022 legislative election, and careerists in the military, intelligence, and national security who fear the inevitable consequences of an early departure. However, going from the current stalemate and, for now, stalled talks between the Ghani government and the Taliban to a full withdrawal of the US-led coalition after a successful surrender will be impossible to achieve before May 1st.

Conflict of interest between regional players and there are many of them is not the only concern for what the White House plans to achieve on the eve of the May deadline for the withdrawal of coalition troops from Afghanistan.

Hafed Al-Ghwell

It is not just the logistics of withdrawal that will result in a missed deadline, there is a laundry list of determinations that need to be made, ranging from state security to the separation of legislative, budgetary and political power. After all, once the negotiations are over and the signatories put paper, the final terms will have to ensure that the Taliban will not simply surrender to power, as in the initial 50-50 power-sharing deal, but be forced to compete for it at local, regional and national levels. However, this will have to come after the White House addresses the numerous concerns raised after the details of its peace initiative were proposed, perhaps a deliberate move to assess stakeholder positions ahead of the intra-Afghan meeting in Turkey. this month.

For example, while the NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels last month focused on reviving the alliance and establishing a unity of purpose against Russia on the Eurasian continent and China in the Indo-Pacific region, European members have not yet been sold into the Biden plan. . Moreover, the EU is concerned that if the May 1 deadline is not met, Washington has not yet fully indicated what the conditions for a future withdrawal will look like.

However, America’s transatlantic partners all agree that the White House proposals in Afghanistan provide the necessary impetus to a stalled process, despite progress from a fairly well-established Doha process, and the planned talks in Istanbul offer a place for coalition partners to cooperate and synchronize positions, increasing pressure on deniers to adhere.

For now, the White House must focus its efforts on ensuring that the Istanbul talks succeed, unlike the parallel meeting held in Moscow in March, without jeopardizing the Doha process or the re-creation of the largely failed Bonn Agreement. 2001. With better planning and clear communication on the agenda and attendees, Washington can avoid a catastrophic setback to its grand ambitions, which can be challenging to recover from the window already close to laying the groundwork for his proposed initiatives.

Fortunately, the Afghan public has mostly welcomed the Biden initiative, only to spark more dialogue on key issues, such as whether decisions by the Islamic Council will replace those of the judiciary. Overall, the positive sentiment also stems from the fact that Biden White House has not shied away from a central role in securing a lasting solution in Afghanistan, as opposed to the previous administration’s “solution at all costs” strategy.

Unfortunately, a tangible sense of insecurity remains despite a decline in targeted violence against civilians. And while no coalition troops are likely to leave by May 1, Afghans feel excluded from intensifying diplomatic efforts as political elites continue to reject compromises. Kabul has also communicated its dissatisfaction with Biden’s plan, which could complicate the adoption of multilateral negotiated terms by the government and the Taliban. Already, the government is refusing to release more Taliban prisoners, claiming the former detainees are returning to the battlefield as the Taliban may escalate attacks to force the coalition out and destroy the U.S. peace initiative.

For now, the ball remains in Biden’s court. Feedback from the resulting proposals will probably factor in the planning of the Istanbul meeting and the creation of more palatable terms to turn a project proposal into a formal strategy for stakeholders and to draw their cooperation towards the formation of what appears to be a social democracy in Afghanistan.

After all, there is no easy formula to comprehensively transform Afghanistan when armed intervention equates to political suicide, while an early departure will only endanger Afghanistan, threaten regional stability, and jeopardize new conflicts. Fortunately, the Afghan public, the region and the international community support a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. The problem, however, lies with Kabul’s political elite, which is reluctant to share power with an equally uncompromising Taliban leadership, and can only hope that the flood of diplomatic activity and intensified pressure will achieve the impossible as envisaged by the peace initiative in Biden.

  • Hafed Al-Ghwell is a senior member of the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Twitter: @HafedAlGhwell

Responsibility: The views expressed by the writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News.

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