It is now beyond a shadow of a doubt certain that it is impossible to settle Afghan conflict without a consensus between regional countries and the West. As long as the West and Afghanistan’s neighbors are at loggerheads over the Afghan issue, the war will continue. All sides in the conflict seem to accept the fact, but no steps have been taken so far to find any common ground and ensure coordination between the two opposing sides. The lack of coordination in the efforts aimed at bringing the war in Afghanistan to a peaceful end is an example. While the United States, contrary to its previous policy, has begun to engage in direct talks with the Taliban, Russia is also trying to hold a meeting involving Taliban representatives and some Afghan politicians in Moscow. Although the Russian foreign ministry announced on Saturday that Afghan government has agreed to partake in the meeting, Kabul says it is yet to make final decision about it.
Any peace overture should be welcome, but the more uncoordinated the peace efforts are, the lower are the chances of their success, because every side can sabotage the efforts of the other side. Russia as a regional power and the United States as a major side in the Afghan conflict should be part of any major decisions with regard to the peaceful solution of the conflict in Afghanistan. Their exclusion from any peace endeavors means the failure of the peace process. Both sides wield enough tools and leverage to derail peace negotiations; therefore, the success of any peace talks seems impractical without unanimity of their positions.
Now that both Washington and Moscow claim that their goal is to bring the Afghan conflict to a negotiated end, they have to set their differences aside and coordinate their efforts. Americans should either backpedal on its previous stance rejecting to attend the meeting or must convince Russians through diplomatic channels that their unilateral efforts cannot bring peace to Afghanistan. The Russians should also realize the American influence and Afghan government’s sensitivity, and pave the way for American participation in the meeting. Moscow can ensure Americans that its mediation in talks with the Taliban is not aimed at challenging American interests; it is rather trying to seek a solution to the Afghan conflict that is acceptable to all parties besides Afghans.
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