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Another Eid, Another Ceasefire Attempt in Afghanistan

August 22, 2018 in Economics

By Sahar Khan

Sahar Khan

President Ashraf Ghani
announced a ceasefire
this past Sunday, stating it would begin
on Monday, August 20,
if the Taliban agreed
. Ghani urged the Taliban to accept the

three-month-long ceasefire
— the longest ceasefire offer
ever made by the Afghan government to the Taliban — stating
that the ceasefire was for the Afghani people and their desire for
long-lasting peace.

Will the Taliban accept this new ceasefire?

The latest attempt at a
ceasefire is a positive development for Afghanistan.

While the Taliban’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid maintains that
the group has not
officially accepted or rejected
the Afghan government’s offer,
Monday’s violence in Kunduz seems to indicate otherwise. The
Taliban
confirmed the capture
of three passenger buses with at least
200 people in Kunduz, including women and children, traveling for
the Eid ul Adha holiday — a three-day celebration that begins
on Tuesday, August 21. Afghan security forces managed to
rescue 150 passengers
, while 21 remain in Taliban custody. This
incident, combined with the violence throughout this summer,
indicates that the Taliban remain wedded to their insurgent
ways.

Yet, the Taliban of today are not
the same organization of the 1990s
. In fact, the Taliban

has redefined its mission
from fighting a foreign occupation
(basically targeting U.S. and NATO forces) to resisting a
government that it views as a Western implant (namely, the current
Ghani government and the Afghan security forces).

To show the Afghan and U.S. government, along with the Afghan
people, that it has evolved, the Taliban desperately need to
improve their legitimacy — and have been trying to do so for
the past few years by
engaging in bilateral and multilateral talks
with regional
players. Taliban officials
have also agreed to participate
in peace talks in Moscow next
month. Accepting Ghani’s offer, therefore, is a low-cost way
for the Taliban to increase their legitimacy. There are also three
key reasons for why they should.

The first, and most obvious, reason is that the Taliban have
never been stronger. According to the Special Inspector General for
Afghanistan Reconstruction’s
January 2018 report
, approximately 54 percent of
Afghanistan’s territory is under the government’s
control while 30 percent remains contested — and potentially
vulnerable to Taliban control. The Taliban
remain openly active
in at least 66 percent of
Afghanistan’s territory. In May, the
Taliban claimed to take control over the capital of Farah
, the
largest western province of Afghanistan. Even though the Taliban
were unable to maintain control for long, <a target=_blank …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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