Kabul’s government has made an offer of peace talks to the Taliban to end America’s longest war. It should be taken up
In extending an olive branch to the Taliban at an international conference in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Wednesday, President Ashraf Ghani has boosted the prospects for peace in his battle-scarred country. These are admittedly pretty dim; but Mr Ghani’s offer to work with the Taliban as a nascent political party – with the promise to provide passports to the group’s representatives and open an office for them in Kabul – was a generous one. There are good reasons to be sceptical about whether the gesture will be met in the same spirit. The Taliban have historically viewed Kabul as a puppet regime and spurned negotiations, calling instead for direct talks with Washington. This position was reiterated by the Taliban on the eve of the conference.
Yet underlying Kabul’s and the Taliban’s position is that neither view a military solution as possible – though both have sought to gain the upper hand through force before coming to the table. US president Donald Trump has ramped up the fighting talk, and given the generals in the field the freedom to make major battlefield decisions without civilian approval. It was a strategy designed to bomb the Taliban to the negotiating table. The problem was that the Taliban bombed back. On 29 January, the group detonated a car bomb disguised as an ambulance and killed scores in Kabul. This endless cycle of blood cannot continue. Recognition of this in Afghanistan would be a good thing.
Link : The Guardian view on the war in Afghanistan: give peace a chance | Editorial