March 22, 2023

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The war in Afghanistan is intensifying even as peace talks are happening parallel with the United States. The big contradiction and tragedy there, the loss of lives and the destruction is tremendous. The Taliban have been carrying out a lot of targeted assassinations of key civil society figures and individuals who oppose their agenda. They have also been mounting their insurgency and trying to take over.

Until now the terrain was that the government or government-allied forces held most of the big cities like Kabul, Kandahar, and Helmand, etc. However, now the Taliban are on the verge of taking over many of these places. Almost 60% of the US withdrawal is complete and by July itself the US forces will mostly be out. The air power used to be there to support the Afghan defense forces and Special Forces that are now going to be missing. The Taliban are counting on this to be able to make further inroads. On the other side, other sectarian terrorist groups are carrying out ghastly suicide attacks against some sects.

Overall it might be called a peace process but practically for the people there and for the region, the insecurity is actually growing. It is not decreasing and therefore, it is a matter of great concern.

Despite the talks going on in Qatar and several other places the Taliban are continuously engaging in a relentless pursuit of power through violence. This raises the question of whether the Taliban will have no interest in a political settlement that is being led by America. Some analysts believe that the Taliban were never really interested in so-called peace negotiations or a peace talk.

The fundamental of a peace talk is that there should be some power-sharing. The Taliban have never really agreed to power-sharing. It was always expected that once the US troops begin to withdraw which was originally around May this year the Taliban would take over. The Taliban have been embodied and this was to be expected. It has been quite clear for some time that the Taliban are not interested in power-sharing. They want to set up an emirate in Afghanistan and they want the US troops to leave.

Some analysts are calling this the initial phase of civil war which is beginning there. This has happened earlier also in the 80s when under the UN-brokered agreements the Soviet troops withdrew.

Today the Afghan national security forces have an experience of fighting and they are fighting against the Taliban. There is propaganda on both sides about what is the extent of fighting.

In the end, the situation in Afghanistan depends on two factors. First is how well the Afghan national security forces fight and the second is whether Afghans are able to show and display political unity. Political disunity could turn out to be a major factor in unfolding the civil war.

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