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US Taliban Negotiations: Cease Fire Versus Reduction of Violence

Published Jan 13, 2020
Updated Mar 02, 2020

Establishing ways to prevent violence appears to be one contentious issue that is stalling progress in the US Taliban negotiations in Doha

US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is in Qatar over the past week to achieve a breakthrough in talks with the Taliban. He has held an informal meeting with Taliban deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar but formal talks are yet to begin.

Defining the ways to prevent violence appears to be a contentious issue that is stalling progress.

The Afghan government is insisting on a cease fire even if it is of a short duration rather than reduction of violence in the cities which has been proposed and is acceptable to the Taliban. The reasons for the government’s contention is very obvious as reduction of violence remains a very vague term and thus will be very difficult to monitor,

This will also mean that both sides the Taliban and the Afghan security forces will be free to carry out random attacks and operations and claim this as a part in the paradigm of reduction of violence.

More over there is a possibility of monitoring of the cease fire whereas reduction of violence is neither quantifiable nor is subject to any scrutiny.

“A ceasefire is the Afghan government’s plan for beginning peace negotiations,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi thus said, adding “reduction of violence does not have an accurate meaning in legal and military terms, and it is not practical.”

“By ceasefire, we mean a ceasefire like the one established in the country two years ago, during the Eid days–it had a clear definition,” Sediqqi said in a tweet

The Taliban on the other hand may be looking at reduction of violence implying non targeting of locals while being free to attack foreign forces and citizens.

Another interpretation would be not to use the IEDs which have been the most deadly weapons for the rebels so far.

NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan seemed to suggest the same stating on Twitter, “no attacks on schools and mosques. The Taliban must end violence. It is time to focus on the future for all Afghans.”

Clearly lack of confidence remains a key concern but to establish the same a cease fire or reduction of violence may be necessary, thus what will come first remains to be seen?