Global Insights: Past Yields Little Hope for Afghan Peace Talk Prospects

Global Insights: Past Yields Little Hope for Afghan Peace Talk Prospects

After many months of false starts, Afghan peace talks may finally officially begin in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban opposition has established a quasi-official presence. But a newly published study (.pdf) by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) should again remind us that the likelihood of negotiating a sustained peace deal with the Taliban remains small.

The report’s authors undertook a comprehensive study of almost three decades of negotiations with Afghan resistance movements, reviewing Soviet-era talks with the mujahedeen guerrillas as well as Western and Afghan government negotiations with the Afghan Taliban. Although generalizing lessons from history is always precarious, one obvious pattern that jumps out at the reader of the ICSR study is that none of these negotiations ever yielded a peace agreement.

The authors suggest some insightful reasons for why this might be the case. To begin with, the actors seeking to negotiate with Afghan insurgents over the years have always had diverse reasons for doing so, allowing the Afghan resistance to manipulate these differences for their own ends.

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