The bizarre nature of Afghan “peace” talks is apparent from two things: the “troika” that is meeting in Doha is actually a group of four countries – the US, Russia, China and Pakistan. And the Taliban is talking peace while it wages war on the Afghan government forces.
Within weeks—end-August, according to US president Joe Biden’s timeline — the US will finally exit its 20-year military engagement in Afghanistan.
America’s longest war—the Afghan campaign will beat Vietnam by a matter of months—seems to be ending in a similar fashion. Like Vietnam, the war in Afghanistan will have failed to bring peace.
Meanwhile, the Taliban murders top Afghan officials every day, Pakistan grumbles that President Joe Biden hasn’t spoken to Prime Minister Imran Khan even though the US wants Islamabad’s help stabilising Afghanistan and the UK Conservative Party chairman of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood has been calling for western troops to return to Afghanistan asap (even before all of them have left!)
Having spent a year in Afghanistan, and travelled a bit out of Kabul, even venturing as far as Herat in the west, it is painful to watch the country seemingly fall under Taliban control. In my time there, living on the US Embassy compound and making visits to media grantees in black armoured vehicles, we suffered our share of bomb blasts and coordinated attacks on Kabul’s high-security green zone. For all the security, life felt uncertain, just like the outlook for Afghanistan.
So much more so now, tragically.
The Taliban, who were ousted by the US-led invasion, appear to be gathering strength, attacking and sometimes managing to kill senior Afghan government officials and brazenly claiming credit for the violence.
It’s ironic that America’s so-called “war on terror” seems to be ending like this, with an inflexible terrorising group trying to bomb its way back to power, while the world stands by.