US Taliban Peace Deal – Likely in 2020, Stability Elusive
While a peace deal between the United States and the Afghan Taliban can be expected in 2020, concerns of stability in Afghanistan will continue.
A grim statement by the head of the United Nations in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto that the war in Afghanistan surpassed 100,000 civilian deaths in the past ten years alone from 2009 to the present should be a grim reminder of the urgency of a peace deal, the first stage being that between the US and the Taliban.
Some of the contours of the same were recently revealed by the Associated Press (AP). The Associated Press on 29 December quoting anonymous sources within the Taliban were saying that the ruling council of the group – in Pakistan – has agreed to a temporary ceasefire nationwide.
Ismael Khan, a former jihadi commander who was present in a meeting held between Khalilzad and former president, Hamid Karzai in Kabul, said about ceasefire suggestions. “We said if the Taliban do not agree with a durable ceasefire, they should be convinced to accept a three-month one to pave the ground for the peace process.” This would mean a limited ceasefire the current indications being a ten-day one in the cities which have seen maximum violence in the past.
Hopes of a peace deal had risen after members of the Taliban’s leadership met the group’s top leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada in the Pakistani city of Quetta
However, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid rejected media reports saying the ruling council of the group had agreed to a temporary ceasefire that would eventually open the way for signing a peace deal between the group and the United States.
“The reality of the situation is that the Islamic Emirate has no intention of declaring a ceasefire. The United States has asked for a reduction in the scale and intensity of violence and discussions being held by the Islamic Emirate are revolving solely around this specific issue.”
The release of 5,000 prisoners of Taliban is another condition in the peace agreement draft which is going to be soon signed between United States and Taliban.
United States ‘ Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko has recommended funding reintegration only if a peace deal is inked with the Taliban that provides a framework for reintegrating ex-combatants, there is strong monitoring of the process and violence is dramatically reduced.
US Congress has approved up to $15 million this year for logistical support for peace talks in Afghanistan as per Tolonews.
As and when the talks between the US and Taliban are through the next step will be intra Afghan talks “The Afghan government expects that the US-Taliban talks will cause a result soon,” said presidential spokesman Durrani Jawed Waziri. “The government of Afghanistan has made preparations and formed an effective, concise and capable team for talks with the Taliban and for ensuring a ceasefire.”
Meanwhile Afghanistan is awaiting final Presidential elections results which are likely only by February 2020 and if a second round run off is necessary may well go by the middle of the year.
So multiple factors denote that stability will continue to be elusive.