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Will the Afghans ever be able to “lead” an Afghan-led process”?

March 20, 2012

I normally have better things to do with my time, but I watched part of a White House Press briefing from 15th March, thanks to Youtube.  Discussing the Taliban announcement that the Taliban were suspending dialogue, the White House spokesman said that “we support an Afghan-led process towards reconciliation” and that Taliban could reconcile if they were prepared to lay down their arms, renounce Al Qaeda and promise to abide by the Afghan constitution.

It begs some questions:

  • Who is currently actually in this “Afghan-led process” that the US supports?   The Taliban have withdrawn.  What is more, they have consistently rejected any notion of talking to President Hamid Karzai?
  • And it still seems that the US is somewhat narrowly bent on dictating surrender terms to the Taliban: “hand in your weapons and do what we say”??
  • My more general “elephant in the room” question: are the Afghans now, or will they be in the future, actually capable of leading an Afghan-led solution?  “Afghan-led” is starting to look like a smoke screen the international community is throwing up to excuse its withdrawal

I have just read a short interview with one of the lead opposition politicians, Dr Abdullah Abdullah.  His understanding on dialogue with the Taliban, while big on “I told you so”, did not seem to convey much hope, conviction or new ideas:

“The question is whether the Taliban want to take part in the peace process. Until now the answer seems no. Therefore, the plan we have for peace negotiations is Taliban should first declare that they want negotiations with the government.”

“the plan we have for peace negotiations is Taliban should first declare that they want negotiations”…??

Hmmmm, good thinking.  Is anyone, apart from the Taliban, actually driving anything forwards?

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