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Washington Does Not Cooperate With the Search for Peace in Afghanistan

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Washington Does Not Cooperate With the Search for Peace in Afghanistan

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Lucas Leiroz, research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

The US does not want any further involvement in the Afghan conflict. This seems to be the reality increasingly evident since the moment the American government decided to withdraw its troops from the Central Asian country. However, the end of American participation does not mean the end of the conflict, nor the end of American responsibility for the current status of the crisis. After decades of war, the withdrawal of American troops should be combined with a series of efforts on the part of Washington in order to achieve peace and stability in the country – and, apparently, the American government is not willing to help in this regard.

Initially formed by Russia, US, and China, in 2019, the Troika group aims to join forces to build a pacification process in Afghanistan. Enabling direct dialogue between politicians and diplomats from the world’s major military powers with representatives from Kabul, the group achieved several gains in the search for peace in the Central Asian country, although it is still far from implementing all the measures proposed at the meetings. Pakistan was later added to the Troika, with the group being called the “Extended Troika” or “Troika Plus”. Currently, some officials from the group’s member countries want to further increase the number of participants, with Iran and India being expected to join Troika meetings in the coming months. However, quite unexpectedly, the biggest problem now will be to keep the current composition of the team integral.

Acting very undiplomatically, the US government announced on Monday that it will not participate in the next Troika summit, scheduled to take place this week in Moscow. At one of the most delicate moments in Afghan history, when the international society mobilizes for peace to be reached as quickly as possible, the US attitude sounds truly reprehensible and could negatively impact the structure of the Troika.

More reprehensible than the attitude of not participating in the meeting was the absence of a coherent justification on the part of the US government. Commenting on the case, State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a press conference: “We will not participate in the Moscow talks. The Troika Plus has been an effective, constructive forum. We look forward to engaging in that forum going forward, but we’re not in a position to take part this week… It’s just logistically difficult to take us to take part this week”. As we can see, there is a claim that is “logically difficult”, but there is no justification for the supposed “difficulty”, which leads us to question the authenticity of the American desire to participate in future meetings.

In fact, there is only one reason why Washington does not want to participate in the meeting: the tendency of other members of the Troika is to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, which is an almost inadmissible scenario for the US. Russia, China, and Pakistan are trying to establish a peaceful and friendly dialogue with the new de facto government in Kabul because this is the only possible way for peace to be achieved in the country.

Although Pakistanis have historical relations with the Taliban, this position is not shared by other members of the group. Certainly, the current scenario is not ideal for Moscow and Beijing, however, the priority is to achieve peace and stability, regardless of which group is in power. For Washington, apparently, peace is not exactly a priority, and it is absolutely impossible to negotiate with the officials who participated in the scenes that shocked American society during the last days of occupation. In fact, the US negotiated with the Taliban last year to secure a peaceful withdrawal, which did not happen. The world did not see a voluntary withdrawal of troops, but a true defeat for Washington and for this reason it is unthinkable for the American government to continue participating in negotiations with the presence of the Taliban’s representatives.

However, this situation can in no way justify the American attitude. No kind of “national pride” or attempt of demonstration of force can take precedence over the need to pursue peace. It is necessary that the other members of the Troika and the entire international society publicly disapprove the American refusal to participate in the summit and remember that much of what is happening in Afghanistan today is of American responsibility. The decades of occupation are the only cause for the current scenario, and this cannot be ignored.

On the other hand, by avoiding participating in the meetings, the US harms itself. Washington is likely to avoid sending officials at upcoming meetings as well, and this will move the US government away from rounds of negotiations on the Afghan scenario, giving the US’ biggest geopolitical rivals (Russia and China) an advantage. By actively participating in the pacification process, Moscow and Beijing not only give space for the Taliban to assert itself as a new recognized government but gain legitimacy to demand from the Taliban some actions and changes in return. In fact, the Russian and Chinese governments are requiring a series of changes in Taliban administration, providing in return the advancement of political recognition and diplomatic relations. Negotiating is above all a tool of power and with it the Russians and Chinese tend to gain more influence over Afghanistan, while the US loses more and more space at a global level.

Source: InfoBrics

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