US-Taliban Talks
Petty Officer 3rd Class Ty Ramsey, construction mechanic, finishes a day of work at combat outpost K...

The eighth US-Taliban talks, which began on August 03, concluded without reaching a deal on Monday in Doha, the capital of Qatar. However, neither side shared details of the development except vague comments by the representatives from both sides. The US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad described the talks as “productive,”, while the Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid termed it as “long and useful”.

Despite the vague optimism reflecting from the representatives, the latest round of US-Taliban talks for peace has ended plainly without reaching a peace deal for Afghanistan. Both sides indicated they would consult their leadership for the further talks.

The US-Taliban talks are aimed at striking an agreement under which the US will pull out it forces from the land-locked country. For the Taliban’s part, they will have to ensure that Afghanistan, which they had been ruling until 2001, will no longer serve as the launchpad for global attacks. Besides, among other most immediate US concerns are the power-sharing talks between the Taliban and the US-backed Afghan government and a ceasefire.

Ironically, the Taliban- who have been fighting against the US invasion on Afghanistan which they claim theirs- do not recognize the Afghan government, and hence refuse to negotiate with it.

The US and NATO had invaded Afghanistan in days following September 11, 2001, attacks in the US. The fierce resistance which the western forces had to face in their vain hunt for Osama Bin Laden led to criticism in the western societies. As the public opinion had been forming against the continuation of the war on terror that was leading nowhere.

Particularly, since 2011, the year when Osama Bin Laden was killed by the US forces, the war on terror in Afghanistan had lost its justification. Perhaps, the then US President Barack Obama too had anticipated the no end in sight of this war. Subsequently, the formal conclusion of US and NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan concluded in 2014. Yet fearing power vacuum in case of complete withdrawal, the US and allies remained 20000 troops in Afghanistan.

The latest round of US-Taliban talks, if not encouraging, is still ‘productive’ as termed by the US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad as it paves the way for further talks. Also because diplomacy is always better than war, which is neither ‘productive’ nor ‘useful’.

The post-war Afghanistan’s reins are in the hands of two major stakeholders, both pulling it into opposing directions so far. One is the US and the government backed by it; the other is Taliban, who have fought both the US and the Afghan government backed by it. Currently, and perhaps years from now, the US-Taliban fight in Afghanistan has reduced into a chess game in which not only pawns, bishops, knights, rooks, but also queen have become the casualties of the game. Only two kings have survived, to witness painstakingly, helplessly as they cannot defeat each other. In this stalemate, they are obliged to reach a compromise.

This chess-game situation which, though miserable, might serve as a fable for both the US and Taliban. Twenty years’ experience has supported the claim that neither side could defeat the other in Afghanistan, that has become a living hell for the civilians whose fate has been to become a collateral from one side, or the other.