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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at his inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at his inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, March 9, 2020 (AP Photo by Rahmat Gul).

Internal Divisions, in Kabul and Within the Taliban, Hinder Afghan Peace Talks

Monday, March 30, 2020

The peace agreement signed late last month between the United States and the Taliban promised that intra-Afghan negotiations would commence by March 10. Unsurprisingly, that deadline was missed, illustrating the formidable hurdles that remain in the way of a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan.

The multiple actors involved in the conflict have widely divergent expectations of the political process. Within the Taliban, there is a divide between the movement’s political leaders—most of whom are based in neighboring Pakistan—on the one hand, and its military commission and commanders in Afghanistan, on the other. Both are pursuing victory, but they differ on how to achieve it. The internationally recognized Afghan government is pursuing a settlement that preserves Afghanistan’s republican political system, but its leading politicians are at loggerheads with each other. The U.S. wants to secure peace in Afghanistan and pull its military out, but it wonders if one is possible without the other. The path toward productive intra-Afghan talks depends upon reconciling all of these contradictory positions. ...

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