Monday this week seemed like a repeat of many other days in recent months where bloody battles were fought across Afghanistan, of which the most damaging was the Taliban suicide attack in Samangan during the day.
A car explosion at the National Directorate of Security in Aybak city was followed by armed assailants entering the building. After the gunfight where all the Taliban militants were killed, local sources claimed 10 people were killed and 53 others, including civilians, were wounded.
Samangan Governor Abdul Latif Ibrahimi said the Taliban had targeted the provincial building and the police headquarters, but stormed the NDS complex instead, after failing to attack the two government buildings.
The Taliban, while claiming the “martyrdom seeker” attackers belonged to the group, said “47 NDS operatives, including key officers” were killed and “72 wounded.” The group’s spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted a photo of a wounded security forces soldier being carried on a stretcher, and said:
“To those who do not understand the language of diplomacy.”
On July 12, Mujahid also voiced Taliban’s take on the government’s call for a reduction in violence. ” If anyone wants to stop the violence before the talks, this is an illogical request. War is raging precisely because we have yet to find an alternative.”
The Afghan government has always been contradictory since the signing of the U.S. peace agreement with the Taliban in Qatar.
Initially, President Ghani had responded and said since the Afghan government had not been a party to the talks, they would not be willing to meet the U.S.’ commitment of the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners. He had emphasized that the Taliban prisoners were an issue for the Afghan government to decide on.
It was not long after, when Ghani once again responded and signed the decree which said the government would be releasing the Taliban prisoners as a “goodwill” measure before the start of the intra-Afghan peace talks.
The delay and the government’s terms have always been criticized by the Americans and the Taliban.
Now that more than 4,000 Taliban prisoners have been released from Afghan prisons without any guarantees or considerations. Intra-Afghan peace talks have not yet begun, and some of the newly released Taliban forces are already back on the battlefields and attacking the security forces.
Even Senate Speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar mentioned that the “Taliban fighters who had returned to the front despite their written commitments” were part of the group causing problems on the Kabul-Jalalabad Highway in Laghman province last week.
However, the Afghan government has continued to release Taliban prisoners, without announcing a specific position or plan for the start of the peace dialogue.
What they have done, is establish several “peace institutions” that are somehow aligned and supposed to work with each other. But, none of the peace-related institutions has yet shown any significant and tangible results, except to meet daily and post photos of these conferences and quotes on social media.
Contrary to what is happening on the battlefield, there have been more bloody events since the peace process began. Yesterday itself, in addition to the bloody attack in Aybak, the Taliban spokesperson wrote that a member infiltrated the 209th Shaheen Corps of Balkh province, and killed seven security forces. Ambushes and attacks were also reported in Badakhshan, Kunduz and Parwan provinces, killing and wounding about 40 people.
Why is the Taliban not willing to talk peace?
It has become clear that the Taliban are not willing to make peace with the Afghan government. They have always emphasized the illegitimacy of the current political system and the Afghan government, calling it the “Kabul administration.”
The Taliban is a Salafi fundamentalist ideological group that is incompatible in value with the current system and government, but in reality, they dream of returning to power and monopolizing Afghanistan with the support of their regional and international backers.
In the past year itself, the Taliban has changed the narrative of victory in their favour and gained legitimacy by engaging in talks with the U.S. Emerging from the Tora Bora caves, they managed to pen an agreement with the world’s largest political-military power to get recognition as one of the “parties” to the power struggle in Afghanistan.
This was all in the group’s favour so why will they want to get absorbed into the current political system where the government is notorious for its infamy and corruption?
The Taliban assessed the current situation well in advance and will not sign a peace agreement with the Afghan government under any circumstances.
What does the government get?
On the other hand, the Afghan government led by President Ghani, also does not seem willing to make peace with the Taliban.
The Afghan government has always taken steps that have complicated the peace process and challenged the American negotiation process.
After realising that the release of Taliban prisoners would not contribute to the security and peace in and of Afghanistan, the government released 4,199 Taliban prisoners so far – albeit under U.S. pressure. But this was not done in the way the Americans agreed with the Taliban.
Rather, this complex process was driven in a way that has made peace talks more distant.
However, it seems that Ghani plans to continue to drag this confusing situation until the end of his term along with the continued existence of the Taliban, irrespective of the Afghan people, the government and the system, and of course whether the U.S. forces stay or leave Afghanistan.
Contributed by Zackaria Noori; Edited by Anugya Chitransh.