Post-2014 scenarios, Taliban dialogue
By Tim Foxley
Summary: Two questions for consideration. Is northern Afghanistan’s secession a plausible consequence, post-2014? Can we get a sense of what “behind the scenes” Afghan government dialogue with the Taliban might look like by studying at the way northern power-brokers ally, trade and engage in dialogue in the run-up to the Afghan elections?
A couple of further points to my (or rather the AAN’s) piece about some northern Afghan ethnic leaders coming together in yet one more non-permanent permutation. We can ponder the motives for these gatherings and I am sure the intention is to form some kind of powerbase from which to contest the election in 2014. But, given the levels of uncertainty surrounding Afghanistan’s prospects after 2014, where could these sort of alliances ultimately go?
In the context of possible scenarios for Afghanistan after 2014, there is a lot of discourse and debate concerning the risks of civil war. I came across an interesting piece written by the cultural and political historian, Thomas Barfield, in late 2011. He proposed the following idea:
“At the moment, non-Pashtun Afghans fear that Karzai will strike a deal with the Pushtun Taliban at their expense…Instead of fighting another bloody civil war, as Afghanistan’s non-Pashtuns did on the 1990s, they might instead abandon the unitary state and secede, leaving the Taliban to struggle for power with other Pashtun factions in the south and east. Such a scenario would inevitably destabilise Pakistan’s Pashtun-majority regions, making the vast, ungoverned territories that border Afghanistan even more anarchic and therefore fertile ground for various terrorist groups.”
I have no particular answer to this as yet, it is just an idea I am mulling over. My other thought, as I consider what may or may not be happening in terms of dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban, is that maybe this kind of northern Afghan political deal-making style shows us what format we can expect in private as insurgency talks to government? In other words, can we learn something from observing the way Afghan power-brokers negotiate deals more or less in the open and draw conclusions about what might be going on in more sensitive deals “behind the scenes”?
In terms of Taliban to government talks, this might suggest a few key power-brokers conducting deals with little consideration for the Afghan population and a lot of consideration for personal and/or factional gain (ministries, prestige, money, power….). Is this what we can expect?
Anyone got any thoughts on these thoughts?