Between Hopes and Pitfalls


Protracted Afghanistan conflict remains a nightmare for the proponents of perpetual peace. Ever since post 9/11 US invasion, the country is laden with intensifying violence and clouds of embroiling turmoil keeps hovering it that continue to ensue mayhem repercussion over the regional security architecture. Over the period of two decades the unresolved dispute has become one of the most hostile conflict of contemporary times, wrecking unprecedented catastrophes at state and regional level. Notwithstanding the pessimistic assertions of the past, the Afghanistan peace process became a ray of hope for the regional peace and stability. The historic “US- Taliban deal,” under the Trump administration in the year 2020, followed by the resumption of “intra- Afghan peace process” apparently foreseen as a roadmap for conflict resolution. The deal with Taliban has been one of the fewer accomplishments for the President Trump. On the other hand, it also put the new Biden administrations in doldrums vis-à-vis execution of the policy- that seemingly opting divergent approach. Majority of the policy principles towards Afghanistan had been subtle in nature. In hindsight, the year 2017, President Trump administration revamped  Obama’s Af-Pak policy of Clear, Build, Hold, Transfer (CBHT) with new Regionalize, Realign, Reconcile, and Reinforce and Sustain policy (R4+S), prioritizing the notion of “winning war in Afghanistan  and condition based drawdown of troops rather  aiming on national building. Thus towards Afghanistan  crisis over the years US by and large remained coercive and assertive in its rapprochement and reconciliation policies rip to shreds the influence of Taliban and prompting democratic governance architecture, now initiated “honey fuggled approach through negotiations” to smoothen its path for pulling out from Afghanistan. Amid of recent circumstances, the notion of victory understandably confined to its peaceful escape plan, irrespective of post withdrawal constrains that may invoke catastrophes domestically in Afghanistan and interweaving entire region.

Given the recent development vis-à-vis Afghanistan peace process, it is arguable what the US and Taliban want to make out of this deal? The riposte is simple, the Taliban wants to be dominant and exclusive whereas the US hopes for withdrawal through using peaceful means. Introspection of the [vary deal] suggests that the Taliban seemingly on the repossession path of their empire which they lost into the hands of the US since the instigation of Operation Enduring Freedom in the year 2001. The non-state entity desires an unimaginable power and legitimacy among the international community. Their persuasiveness of negotiations coupled with asymmetric coercion (maintaining pressure through violence) is reasonably bringing far-fetched outcomes. Emboldened by its religious ideological aspirations, the dual strategy not only warranted the departure of invasion troops without any success from their soil but also secured the release of their numerous battle-harden fighters at their own stakes. On the negotiation table, the Taliban holds the inclusive leverage of “bargain” whereas the US seemingly in no position as it already decided to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Notwithstanding the idealist rhetoric, the entire political settlement brings substantial gains for the Taliban’s, marginal concessions for the US, and a sigh of relief for regional stakeholders whilst leaving the rest of Afghans reeling with an uncertain future.

As a case point, the US demanding Taliban to disassociate from Al-Qaida and offshoot groups and refrain from attacking the US and West at large, seemingly a wild goose chase in the dark. A dismaying fact, the Taliban have not even agreed to the “ceasefire” yet (largely the key demand by the US), as the entire country is still bedewed in a blood bath and embroiling turmoil. As a consequence, compliance with the peace agreement from the Taliban after regaining their power in foreseeable future could turn up wishful thinking for the US.

As far as the power-sharing arrangement is concerned, the Taliban reluctant to adhere government based on the contours of a democratic regime. Nor, any partial representation in the current pro-US government setup is acceptable to them in Afghanistan. It follows that an Islamic ideological empire, fundamentally aligned with “Shariah principles” is their ultimate objective. Realistically, the US remains on the receiving end at the negotiation table with the Taliban. Irrespective of mayhem repercussions for the future of Afghanistan and regional geopolitics, its reductionist strategy would scarcely earn it an escape cover while trillion dollars investment on the US policies- Control, Build, Hold, Transfer (CBHT) and Regionalize, Realign,  Reconcile, Reinforce and Sustain (R4+S) during Obama and Trump administration ever since invasion gone squandered.

Thus, sequential failure of policies upraised apprehensions concerning the legitimating of war, and the US struggling to justify it over period of time. Moreover, the sub-sequential transformation led non-coherent and erratic strategic paradigm in order to bring perpetual peace through the process of regime change that further proved fatal for the stabilization of the country. Furthermore, the notion of wining of war also became ambiguous, the way it was carried out by different administration in their respective eras. The strategy towards Afghanistan predominantly loaded with pre-conceived policies of military practices with uncertain rotation of military troops, alliances and manpower tactically and operationally more often, leading to intensifying violence and instigation of civil warfare. For instance, Obama’s strategy of CBHT was overlying on the US military practices, enacting strategic ploughs through Northern alliance, mercenary forces and its regional allies became ineffective due to uncertain imperatives that needed to be addressed at first hand by the US policy orientation goals.


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