An Impossible Task?
Rahmatullah Nabil, Former Director of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Afghanistan discussed what lies ahead for Afghanistan’s Peace Process while referencing the Istanbul conference
on his Twitter account.
The Istanbul conference was originally scheduled for April 5th but is likely to be delayed due to ongoing arrangements. Given the date of May 1st for US troop withdrawal, the 11,000 troops that remain in Afghanistan, and the many other moving parts concerning the process – it is almost impossible for the deadline to be met. Ahmad Shah Mohibi, founder of Rise to Peace, reiterated the impossible task
of a quick troop withdrawal and also mentioned the possible need for another conference in the style of the Bonn Conference in 2001.
Troop Withdrawal Extension
What is expected to happen? The United States (US) will ask Pakistan and the Taliban to agree to a 6-month delay in the withdrawal of American troops. The extension would be for the implementation of decisions to be made at the Istanbul conference – not for the sake of delay on the part of the US.
U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad and the State Department appear to be satisfied by the break of the Taliban. However, Al-Qaeda, the US Congress, the intelligence community, and the UN sanctions committee still have doubts about the break.
The 90 day period of violence reduction talks are ongoing and appear to be successful. The Taliban is expected to request the release of all remaining prisoners and the removal of the Taliban from UN and other sanctions/blacklists. Ghani’s removal no longer key. To Taliban, as other stakeholders have already agreed to his stepping down.
If all continues smoothly behind the scenes, a new date for the Istanbul conference will be selected. And a power-sharing transitional government will be discussed – likely to be agreed to with minor modifications. The current Resolute Support mission may be changed to UN peace-keeping forces – perhaps with some Muslim country forces as additions.
The Afghan Special Forces and the Taliban’s Special Force Unit will possibly be set up under the UN peace-keeping umbrella also. An Islamic country, perhaps Turkey will monitor the political arrangements of the conference. If none of the above transpire
– Afghanistan will likely be dragged deeper into crises and conflict with spillover effects to the region and the rest of the world. This would also likely impact the flow of refugees currently spilling over into Europe.