Developments since the publication of the March issue of PN have, I fear, only served to confirm my analysis there of the Afghan ‘peace talks’ process (PN 2543).
In particular, the Taliban’s announcement that it is ‘suspending’ its proto-talks with the Americans should reinforce the crucial need for the international peace movement to mobilise public pressure to force the US to take the ‘peace process’ seriously and commit to a full withdrawal.
The suspension is due, in large part, to the failure of the US to release five Taliban prisoners currently being held at Guantánamo Bay – widely recognised as an essential (if token) response to the Taliban’s ‘game-changing’ decision to open a political office in Qatar.
Just how seriously the Taliban have been taking the ‘talks’ process is perhaps indicated in a recent piece In the online US publication The Daily Beast.
This details the extensive – and, given the nature of guerrilla warfare, risky – measures that the movement’s leadership has been taking to try and persuade its commanders and foot soldiers that they are not being sold out by the leadership’s willingness to engage in negotiations.
The recent massacre of 16 civilians – including nine children – by US soldier Robert Bales has thrown an all-too-brief (if somewhat misleading) spotlight on NATO killings in Afghanistan.
The opportunity still exists to end the wars – NATO’s occupation and the long civil war that stretches back to 1978 – permanently, through negotiation. It must be seized.