The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analyses and informed comments on the most significant developments in the MENA region, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on future scenarios. Today, we focus on Afghanistan and on what the US withdrawal by September 11, 2021, will mean both domestically and internationally. Also, what shoul we expect from the diplomatic talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban to be held in Turkey?
The year 2021 is the twentieth anniversary of the beginning of the US war in Afghanistan and marks a critical juncture for the country. President Joe Biden entered the Oval Office on January 20, and less than 100 days remain before May 1, 2021, the deadline for the US troops’ withdrawal according to the Doha agreement signed in February 2020 between the US and the Taliban. The Biden/Harris administration has a short time to decide whether to adhere to, revoke or renegotiate the terms of that deal.
Civil society (Jameya-e-Madani or Madani Tolana in Dari and Pashto), its understanding, and its relations with the state have evolved over time globally and also in the contemporary Afghan context.
The nascent peace and reconciliation process underway in Afghanistan is often described as “Afghan-owned” and “Afghan-led.” But in reality, Afghanistan’s neighbours (and America and the EU too) have played a big part in it.
Unlike other peace processes – from Colombia to the Philippines –, there is no exclusive Afghan government delegation to the officially so-called intra-Afghan negotiations that started in Doha (Qatar) in September 2020. Instead, a construct called the “negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” (IRoA team) with 21 members is facing the Taliban.
The political leadership of the Taliban supported the ‘Khalilzad process’, because it was designed to offer the Taliban an attractive deal. In fact, Khalilzad framed the process largely on the basis of a Pakistani proposal.
When President-Elect Biden entered the Oval Office, only 100 days remained before May 1, 2021, which the Doha Agreement with the Taliban sets as the deadline for the U.S. to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan.
The terrible human toll exacted by the war in Afghanistan since 2001 has been documented by Afghan and international human rights organizations and the UN. Civilian casualties alone (killed or injured) have been around 10,000 per year for the past decade, many of them victims of unlawful killings and other violations of the law of armed conflict. Yet, for these actions, impunity has long reigned virtually supreme. Only last year were there some signs of serious commitments to investigating and prosecuting.
2021 marks the twentieth anniversary since the beginning of the US war in Afghanistan and a critical juncture for the country. After reaching some diplomatic achievements in 2020 – such as the “US-Taliban Agreement” – Trump’s accelerated withdrawal of US troops and the concession to sit bilaterally with the Taliban deeply wounded the Intra-Afghan peace process. Which challenges will Joe Biden be forced to navigate in the short-term? Will regional powers play an increasingly more relevant role in the future? Which future should the Afghan people expect?
The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a health emergency but a multi-dimensional crisis for Afghanistan, casting “a huge shadow” over daily lives, Deborah Lyons, newly appointed head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan told the Security Council on Thursday, June 25.