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Why the Taliban Should Accept Afghanistan's Ceasefire Offer

August 22, 2018 in Economics

By Sahar Khan

Sahar Khan

After a particularly violent summer, Afghanistan’s president,
Ashraf Ghani, proposed a three-month ceasefire with the
Taliban this past Sunday, to begin on Monday. It follows a first ceasefire implemented during Eid al-Fitr, in
June, which saw both Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents
refrain from attacks.

A second ceasefire right
now is in every major stakeholder’s interest – even the
Taliban’s.

The big picture: The Taliban have not officially accepted or rejected Ghani’s offer.
But if the Taliban want its demands — which include a U.S. troop
withdrawal from Afghanistan and direct talks with the U.S. —
met, the group needs to increase its legitimacy. Accepting Ghani’s
ceasefire is a low-cost opportunity to do so.

The Taliban are militarily strong and have continued to
challenge the Afghan government in recent months, as evidenced by
the attacks in Farah, Ghazni, and Kunduz. But as the war in Afghanistan enters
its 18th year, a consensus has emerged among all stakeholders
— the U.S., the Afghan government, Afghanistan’s neighboring
countries and the Taliban themselves — that the ongoing war
in Afghanistan can’t end without a political solution. For example,
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia
Alice Wells met with Taliban officials in Qatar last month
to restart peace talks, and continues to urge Pakistan to persuade the Taliban to
negotiate
.

The Taliban of course can simply reject the ceasefire and
continue attacks on Afghan security forces. But in accepting
Ghani’s offer, the group would show a serious interest in a
political solution. It would also distinguish itself from other
violent militant groups operating in Afghanistan, such as ISIS,
which launched rockets on Kabul residents celebrating
Eid on Tuesday.

The bottom line: A second ceasefire right now
is in every major stakeholder’s interest — even the
Taliban’s.And while it would in all likelihood be insufficient to
create legitimate and lasting avenues for political reconciliation,
it is an essential step toward peace in Afghanistan.

Sahar Khan is a
visiting research fellow in the Cato Institute’s Defense and
Foreign Policy Department. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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