Mixed Signals on Afghan Peace Talk Rules

Officials say claims of ground rules deal untrue

Much of the early talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban were built around agreeing to guidelines and rules. Reuters reported on Tuesday that a deal had broadly been reached, with the US-Taliban deal serving as a basis for other peace deals.

That report seems to have been premature, however, with both government and Taliban officials saying that the Reuters report was incorrect, and that there is still much to be worked out, with several options serving as potential basis for the talks.

The Taliban seemed to like the US deal as a basis, and has also pushed for religious doctrine to serve as a mediator on key points. The Afghan government wanted all issues to be decided by the loya jirga, which is effectively their negotiator team. Afghan government officials have been clear they object to the US deal being “imposed” of them.

US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad urged both sides to show resilience, saying that the alternative would be to repeat past mistakes from 19 years of war. Talks are likely to take some time, but both sides seem to agree they can’t give up on them.

With the US advancing a military pullout, both sides likely want to have a framework of a post-war deal in place by the time they go. This is particularly true of government forces, who would lose a lot of international support if the US leaves without them making progress on the Taliban deal.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.