“Peace in Afghanistan has a large international dimension, which unites the interests and positions of global and regional powers, each of which uses the “Afghan card” to strengthen its position in order to achieve certain political goals,” – Anna Gusarova, an expert in international security, director of Central Asian Institute for Strategic Studies, said.
CABAR.asia: What new things happen in Afghanistan?
For one thing, Afghanistan has already held parliamentary elections. The fact that the elections have been held, not postponed, means that regular elections have become a healthy political habit of the Afghan people. The country has been known for being in the state of war for over 40 years. The boundaries between countering terrorism and peace enforcement have been erased over the years. Peace is needed to reconcile the parties and revive the country, while countering terrorism, provided that it is effective and result-oriented, can lead to peace, which is needed and important for both inside the country and beyond it. Let’s wait for official election results, which will be announced on December 20.However, at this stage it’s important to emphasise the active efforts of young people and women in getting seats in the parliament. This has been caused by many reasons, including financial ones; yet, it should be noted that at this election there were all kinds of candidates. I cannot agree with the opinion that elections in current conditions are a waste of time for the Afghan people. During a lot of interviews with various age groups and professional background, I have noted many times that the Afghans want to build democracy and want to advance in this process (though democracy has come too early to Afghanistan). It also concerns domestic political issues.
As to the foreign political arena, the role and place of Afghanistan is being rethought. Now Afghanistan is more often deemed to belong to Central Asia and it needs to build new, deeper relations with the countries in the region, particularly, trade and economic relations. The president of the country and foreign ministry have worked over these issues by creating a position of a special representative for Central Asia. The Central Asian region takes priority in the foreign policy of Afghanistan.As to the security issue: first of all, I should note the recent events related to the death of the leader of the Haqqani network, the most cruel group, as well as the activation of other groups, particularly, ISIS. The question is whether the Taliban will be ready for negotiations and real peace-making. As to the ISIS, we all remember the relatively recent terror attack in Kabul and Khost Province, which has resulted in 36 deaths (including 10 journalists). ISIS has claimed responsibility for these terror attacks. Or for other terror attacks in January, April, June, July 2018, which have resulted in over 50 injured and over 250 deaths. Which processes threaten the peace in Central Asian countries?
The global community apparently understands the importance of solution of the Afghan issue. Key non-regional actors, who are involved in countering terrorism or in peace-making process to some extent, understand well that peace making is a very simple yet complicated task closely related to the solution of problems in neighbouring Pakistan. So far, Central Asian states cannot suggest anything to Afghanistan but provide a forum for high-level conferences, or, in the case of Kazakstan, provide educational grants to the Afghan people or provide humanitarian aid with the participation of Kazak diplomats, hold active discussion of women’s empowerment issues in Afghanistan. Trade relations are being slowly built. Tashkent and Dushanbe have generally contributed to the negotiations between the Taliban and Russia. Now the representatives of the Afghan government emphasise the importance of Tashkent as the most suitable, yet independent mediator, since it has good relations both with Russia and with the USA. I doubt that the countries can play any other role given the reality and available resources.More and more countries try to establish dialogue with the Taliban. Why Moscow, Washington, Beijing or Tashkent need it? And what’s the attitude of Kabul to it? It makes sense that the peace process cannot be possible without the dialogue with the Taliban and its participation in the negotiations. At the same time, it is not clear what to do with the Taliban, who are isolated as never before. Negotiations with them have been going on for a long time and are still in progress. At the same time, the official government of Afghanistan is also negotiating with the United States, Russia and China. It is important to understand that the dialogue with the Taliban has been going on for a long time and by many countries. The key point is who will be the first to make a deal and what will be the terms of the “deal”. We are well aware that the international community, including USA, will not fully withdraw from Afghanistan in the nearest time. It means that the deals with the Taliban will be postponed again. However, the situation with the Taliban looks rather ambiguous. First of all, the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) is on the list of terrorist organisations of the USA, unlike the Afghan Taliban. Second, the Taliban movement is banned in all Central Asian states and Russia, as well as in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Third, even the United Nations have agreed that peace talks regarding Afghanistan should involve the Taliban. And finally, the United States have not decided whether to designate the Taliban as a terrorist organisation or not, in order not to threaten the American-Afghan relations and peace talks. As a result, when the nation fails to understand and recognise an enemy, it’s hard to fight terrorism properly. Peace in Afghanistan also has a large international dimension, which unites the interests and positions of global and regional powers, each of which uses the “Afghan card” to strengthen its position in order to achieve certain political goals. All attempts to counter terrorism have been rather inefficient since they have been replaced with peace talks with the Taliban, who have failed to put an end to the war. Regional cooperation again gains momentum, and growing interest of regional countries supported by international donors should significantly promote the stability and growth in prosperity of Afghanistan.
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.