By: Dr. Matin Royeen
The current Afghan peace initiative undertaken by the United States is a noble endeavor, but it lacks the necessary prerequisites towards a prosperous and violence free Afghanistan. The bi-lateral peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban signed at the end of February of 2020, calls for the withdrawal of the American troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s commitment to cut ties with terrorists and prevent any attacks by these groups against the US interests from the region. Part of this peace agreement is secret/classified and we do not know about the true nature of the future political relationship between the Taliban and the United States. One thing is clear that the United States has made a drastic policy shift about the Taliban from treating them as a terrorist group on the battlefield to a peace partner on the negotiating table.
Despite their legitimate worries about the future, the Afghans welcome a lasting peace where the diverse people can live and work together side by side towards a self-sufficient and sovereign Afghanistan. Some important fundamentals of peacemaking and peacebuilding need the immediate involvement and continuous support of the world community towards a stable Afghanistan. I would like to share the following points in support of a viable peace with the people of Afghanistan:
- The International Dimension of Afghan Peace needs Collective Consensus. I do not believe the US has adequately engaged the international community such as NATO, the UN and other Islamic countries to actively participate in the peacemaking and peacebuilding efforts. More than forty years of war has devastated the socio-cultural fabric of Afghan life and to expect the Afghan parties to the conflict to make peace without any third party mediation in Doha is not only unrealistic, but also is setting up the peace process for failure.
Equally important is the international community’s financial assistance and the necessary planning for reforms for the post Afghan conflict phase. This will serve as a source of motivation and psychological uplift during the negotiations between the Afghans and Taliban in Doha, Qatar. In the area of peacemaking, dispatching third party mediators to help sort out the underlying causes of direct violence and facilitate conflict resolution is important. Similarly, analyzing the structural causes of violence such as lack of good governance, poverty, corruption, rule of law, ethnic polarization, human rights and justice and developing a mutually accepted resolution can help towards a viable peace within the Afghan society. Finally, addressing the root cause of cultural violence such as clashing of values, belief systems and identity politics can help the parties to the conflict to seek mutually acceptable common values for all Afghans.
- Simultaneous Engagement/Commitment of the Regional Countries towards Afghan Peace is Imperative. The United States/NATO/UN should have parallel discussions with Pakistan, Iran, India, China, Russia, Central Asian Countries, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Indonesia in support of Afghan peace. The neighboring countries must officially sign as guarantors of the Afghan peace process with firm commitment not to interfere in the internal affairs of the Afghan nation. Without such a binding regional commitment, Afghanistan will continue to be the victim of regional rivalries and continued violence.
- Reconciliation Requires Acknowledgement of the Trauma of the Past and Forgiveness for a New Beginning. Both the Afghans, the Taliban have lost lives and have left thousands of loved ones behind as victims. The international communitys’ support for the victims of violence on both sides to come to terms with the past in search of a peaceful future is important.
In view of these challenges, I would like to offer the following recommendations to Dr. Abdullah as the Chairman of the High Peace Council for National Reconciliation:
- Solicit support of the international community for convening Regional Conference parallel to the Afghan-Taliban peace negotiations in Doha. The representatives should consist of high level delegation of the aforementioned regional countries. It is important that this endeavor is supported by the Congress of the United States.
- Ask the United Nations, the United States Institute of Peace to help in the mediation process of the Afghan Taliban peace negotiation. Also, there are individuals who can serve as professional mediators.
- Seek assistance of Islamic Scholars in order to help both parties reach a mutual agreement related the role of Islam in the Afghan Government.
The United States and Nato have made enormous contributions and sacrifices in the past 19 years in Afghanistan. We all have gone a full circle around to realize that the only solution to the Afghan crisis is a peaceful political settlement. It is important for the caravan of this journey of peace to have the proper road map in order to reach the desired destination.
Dr. Matin Royeen is an Afghan American educator in Chicago, USA. He can be reached at [email protected]