Taliban, Afghan Govt ‘Far Apart’ on Basic Issues at Talks

Both sides accuse the other of being inflexible

Over the weekend, the first reports out of the intra-Afghan peace talks showed disputes are emerging around the legal and religious basis through which the entire peace process is meant to be mediated. Monday, we got new specifics about actual issues.

The future of women’s rights is a key issue, because different religious beliefs counsel very different roles for women in Afghan society. The other big issue is a ceasefire, because both sides seem to favor a ceasefire only to the extent that it favors them.

This is complicating the early talks, with both sides looking for a system of rules that will ultimately drive things to their side, and both sides are resisting the idea of any major concessions right now, while faulting one another for their intractability.

With the US intending to be entirely out of Afghanistan in less than a year, there is a timetable here that both sides need to remain aware of. The Afghan government in particular will find its bargaining position weaken markedly if they don’t at least work out a mutually agreeable ceasefire before then, as they are unlikely to be able to hold the stalemate with the Taliban on their own.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.