More comments from some experts who have signed it. Letter here.
1.Do we exactly know with whom from Taliban we should talk and how to start the negotiations? As it is an open letter to President Obama do you think he should directly ask Taliban to start the negotiations?
2. Quote from the letter: It is better to negotiate now rather than later, since the Taliban will likely be stronger next year. If it is like this, does Taliban have any reason to negotiate right now?
Scott Atran, Adjunct Professor, Anthropologist, University of Michigan, Author of Talking to the Enemy
1. Good Q. There is no “Taliban Central” organization and the US-NATO should seek as wide a participation as possible.
2. Most Afghans don’t like the Taliban but think the Taliban should participate in negotiations and a new gov’t. No one wants to fight and die forever. Some Taliban (especially the more radical, younger, mid-level commanders) may want to go on fighting but others, and especially the older veterans who have been fighting for 30 years, probably want to come to an accommodation before matters degenerate further into civil war (when they’ll have no control at all over the younger cadres).
Here’s the link to an article I wrote in October for the New York Times and International Herald Tribune, “Turning the taliban Against Al Qaeda” that spells out some of the related issues
Gerard Russell, Research Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard University and
Peace processes can take a long time to mature. We plant the vine this year, and it may not bear fruit for years to come. It may or may not happen that the Taliban want to talk. If they don’t, then a visible declaration by the US Government that it wishes to talk, puts the Taliban on the back foot: the continuation of the conflict becomes their fault. And meanwhile, those in the Taliban who are disposed to talk will gain in credibility from the fact that the US has made it clear that it is open to talks. The greatest weapon that the extremists have is the belief that the US will not be open to sincere negotiations.
As for the mechanics, this is open to further debate. I would suggest the appointment of an envoy, by the U.N. or a private body, who could explore options for talks with explicit US/Coalition encouragement but without explicit instructions from any party. It is even possible for an envoy to act without explicit endorsement from any government, provided that there is co-operation in practice. So, even an NGO could conduct the dialogue, provided that the US was prepared to let it happen. It is also possible to have a more comprehensive and Afghan-led process. The first step is for the US view to be clear; the Afghans then will act with more confidence.
The emphasis on reconciliation as an Afghan-led process is right overall, but neglects the fact that the Afghan government in practice does not control the tempo of Coalition operations, and does not have an adequate political system to conduct talks effectively.
Robert Abdul Hayy Darr, Author of The Spy of the Heart
1. My own position on this is that talks should occur similar to the talks that took place in Paris between the US and representatives of Viet Cong forty years ago. I think that talks should be hosted by a Muslim nation like Turkey or Indonesia. Representatives from Mulla Omar’s group in particular should be invited but also members of Haqqani’s more radical organization.
2. I do think that they would be interested in at least discussing the terms under which the United States and Nato could withdraw from Afghanistan if certain conditions were met. Those conditions would have to include abandoning any support of global terrorism and the assurance of basic human rights in Afghanistan and the protection of non-Pashtun ethnic groups, since the Taliban is largely a Pashtun nationalist movement.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Military, Politics, Security, Terrorism Tagged: | Afghanistan, Alex Strick van Linschoten, Barack Obama, Foreign policy, Gerard Russell, Military, NATO, Politics, Robert Abdul Hayy Darr, Scott Atran, Security policy, Security politics, Taliban, Terrorism, United States, US foreign policy, War on Terror