July 22, 2015
Last week Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar issued a statement backing peace talks with the Afghan government, indicating that his goal for negotiations is to end occupation by foreign armed forces and to establish an independent Islamic system. His statement came a week after the Afghan government engaged in official negotiations with Taliban representatives, which the government described as “the start of the first ever official peace talks” between the two sides. Unofficial talks between the Taliban and Afghan government have been ongoing since May; however, the support of Mullah Omar may represent a turning point in the war in Afghanistan.
The Taliban movement is considered a major threat to Afghan security and governmental forces. The militant group also threatens Pakistani stability, and many have concluded that the only way to achieve peace is if the Afghan government negotiates with the Taliban. The dispute and discomfort between the parties grows continuously as the Taliban fights to redeem the power it had when ruling Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The Afghan government has now entered its fourteenth year in war with the group and a peaceful solution needs to be negotiated.
The peace talks have been fueled by Pakistan, who hosted the first official face-to-face negotiations. Taliban officials released a summary of the talks, claiming that the objective of the discussion was focused on terminating the occupation of foreign forces. Analysis by the BBC’s Dawood Azami purports that Taliban fighting and attacks on Afghan security will not be dismissed until the Islamic system is removed or at least separated for them. He also strongly emphasized that civilian casualties are to be minimized, as Taliban forces are primarily at fault for the casualties thus far. The peace talks, however, showed that the conflict between Afghanistan and the Taliban is not as simple as Mullah Omar claims, and the terms that the Taliban has demanded will not be easily met by the Afghan government without resistance and hesitancy as they progress forward in making peace.
– Special thanks to Megan Norris, Restoring Family Links Intern, for contributing this piece