Afghanistan Sguardi e Analisi

Afghanistan Sguardi e Analisi

Afghanistan: Sguardi e analisi" è un progetto aperto finalizzato a comprendere e discutere le ragioni - e le possibili soluzioni - dei conflitti afghani.

mercoledì 20 novembre 2013

CeMiSS - The taliban approach: between battlefield and peace talks

by Claudio Bertolotti

Following the examination reported on CeMiSS Quarterly Summer n. 2/2013, according to the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC), the candidates interested to participate to the Afghan presidential election running (planned in April 2014) are required to register between 16 September and 06 October. Although (at 8th of September) no party has yet formally announced names of presidential nominees, several names of potential contenders have emerged. These include:
• Umer Daudzai, an ethnic Pashtun, currently Afghan ambassador to Pakistan.
• Abdullah Abdullah (who ran against President Karzai in the 2009 presidential election), former Afghan foreign minister and current chief of the National Coalition of Afghanistan party.
• Abdul Rasool Sayyaf, former Mujahedeen commander and at present chief of Islamic Dawah Organization of Afghanistan.
Several local sources reported President Karzai urged Afghan political parties to support Sayyaf.
Karzai didn’t confirm his support to Karzai.
Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) would field a presidential candidate if their demands were endorsed.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the party, offered the Kabul government a two-point proposal for his group’s participation in the 2014 presidential election:
• a complete pull out of foreign troops and
• vote transparency.
What is important to underline is that while HIA’s participation is welcomed but, more important, it is the Taliban (Mullah Omar’s group) that need to be co-opted. In April, President Karzai affirmed that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar could officially run for the presidency next year on the condition that the group broke ties with al-Qaeda and renounced violence; but in August Mullah Omar himself stated he will not participate to electoral competition.
Finally, it is reported a limited participation of women in the election process, (Pajhwok). The main issues restraining women participation include lack of access to remote areas due to weather constraints, an insufficient number of mobile voter registration centers, and the presence of armed opposition groups discouraging residents from obtaining voter cards.

Security viewpoint
Afghan President Hamid Karzai met the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the stalled peace process. Karzai urged Pakistan to facilitate peace talks by providing opportunities for contacts between the Taliban and the Afghan High Peace Council. Sharif assured Karzai of Pakistan’s support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, a peace process that – according to Pakistan recommendations – has to be inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. However it is uncertain whether Sharif wields sufficient influence to convince the Taliban to discuss with Afghan President Karzai.
During the visit, President Karzai also requested the release of high-ranking Taliban detainees held in Pakistan who might act as interlocutors in the peace negotiations, as Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (detained in Karachi in 2010).
In addition, Islamabad and Washington are weighing the option of shifting the Taliban's political office from Qatar to another country in a bid to revive the stalled reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The option came under discussion during US Secretary of State John Kerry's recent visit to Islamabad, where the two sides explored a variety of ways of breaking the deadlock in peace negotiations.
Furthermore, Afghanistan’s second Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili visited India with a high level ministerial delegation on 20 August in order to discuss security related issues as the NATO troop withdrawal draw near. The meeting was mainly focused on enhanced military cooperation.
Afghan army and police officers are trained in Indian academies and India is planning to supply Afghanistan with vehicles and helicopters.
President Karzai has created a new team of high-profile negotiators in order to solve the stalled negotiations between Afghanistan and US. The new negotiation committee, consisting of the president’s national security adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadizai and Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasul, is expected to facilitate the process toward an agreement. The new team of negotiators will discuss role, shape and legal status of US military forces and civilian trainers in post-2014 mission.
A recent increase in the activities of militants from Central Asia, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), in northern Afghanistan indicates that they intend to take advantage of the security vacuum that may ensue post-2014. The magnitude of recent insurgents attacks in northern Afghanistan shows an effort to gain a country-wide presence ahead of the drawdown of NATO forces. Central Asian militants fit into this setting as experienced and trusted allies for the Taliban who have some affinity to Tajik and Uzbek communities in the area.

Latest news (on August), in brief:
• Ghazni, Kandahar, Wardak and Zabul: provincial governors met to discuss improvements to one of the most volatile parts of Afghanistan’s highway system, the Kabul-Kandahar highway.
• Herat province: local authorities reported that clashes between the security forces and Taliban militants on the Kandahar-Herat highway killed at least 83 people including eleven security forces and 72 militants.
• Farah province: a bomb exploded in near a vehicle carrying the provincial commander of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Abdul Samada, killing and wounding civilian people and security personnel.

Brief analysis
According to a recent United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report,bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are the main means of killing. Significant civilian deaths also occurred during the fighting between security forces (both foreign and local) and the Taliban. Furthermore, the total civilian casualties in the first half of 2013 increased 23 per cent compared to the same period in 2012. The number of children killed rose about 30 per cent in the same period.This increase in civilian causalities raises the question whether the Afghan forces will be able to contrast the Taliban insurgency in post-2014 Afghanistan.The stepped-up transition of security responsibilities from ISAF forces to Afghan forces and the closure of international forces’ bases was met with augmented attacks by opposition armed groups adding mainly at checkpoints, on strategic highways, secondary lines of communication, in some areas that had been transitioned and in districts bordering neighboring countries.Furthermore we must consider, on one hand, the “green on blue” attacks’ increasing (a direct threat to MAT, PAT and OCCAT advisers and trainers) and, on the other hand, the reduction of the ANSF’s terrain control capability; the last one as consequence of an increased military and political capacity of the armed opposition groups – in particular in rural and peripheral areas.
The sum of all these factors shows the ANSF limits, underlining the risk of inability to contrast the armed opposition groups expansion and, consequentially, the peril of instability in post-2014 Afghanistan, when foreign combat troops will leave the battlefield “formally”.

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