‘While Taliban is on offensive, US & allies in Afghanistan at a loss as to what to do’
The Afghan capital saw heavy gun fighting on Tuesday between security forces and insurgents. Earlier in the day missiles rained down on central Kabul, fired by the Taliban, according to local police. The attack occurred as the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was delivering a live televised speech during an Eid prayer ceremony at the Presidential Palace.
No militant group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. But two days earlier, the Afghan president offered a ceasefire to the Taliban during the Eid al-Adha celebrations. The group, however, rejected the offer on Monday.
RT discussed the prospects of talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government with Nicolas J. S. Davies, investigative journalist & author of ‘Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq’ and political analyst Intizar Khadim.
RT: Why do you think this ceasefire proposal has been so roundly rejected?
Nicolas J. S. Davies: The Taliban probably quite intelligently recognized that this would be a chance for the US and its allies in Afghanistan to regroup. At this point, the Taliban are on the offensive and the Americans and their allies in Afghanistan seem to be completely at a loss as to what to do… Despite all the tough talk we just heard from the American generals and politicians, the US is losing this war, as it has been for most of the time since it began. There really is no way for the US to recover from this situation.
RT: Why has the US struggled so much to devise a clear political strategy for Afghanistan and failed to take a position on whether or not it's acceptable to negotiate with the Taliban?
ND: The Taliban’s first demand right the way through has been, first of all, for US troops to withdraw, foreign troops, in general, to withdraw from Afghanistan. They have not recognized the government the US installed in 2001... And they have time on their side, they always have. This is their country. They seem to be trying at this point to apply more pressure to force the US to actually talk to them about withdrawing, finally after 17 years.
In a sense it is ironic because the US have always talked about applying enough military pressure to bring the Taliban to negotiations, to the peace table. That has always been the official US policy. But in fact that is the Taliban who are doing that. And probably have more chance of success.
RT: What do you expect America's approach to be going forward?
ND: If the last 17 years are what we can base that on, then they are just going to keep muddling along at the expense of tens of thousands, overall hundreds of thousands of Afghan lives. But this really should be unacceptable. We’ve seen with this various ceasefire offers, and by the behavior of the Afghan soldiers in the Afghan National Army and the Taliban, that in fact there isn’t the deep animosity that would lead to a prolonged civil war once the foreign troops withdrew. These various talks about ceasefires and truces indicate that there is a way forward for the Afghans on both sides, if the US would simply withdraw.
Afghan reconciliation talks are scheduled to be held in Moscow on September 4. Representatives of the Taliban movement are expected to participate in the upcoming conference, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. Political analyst Intizar Khadim suggested that this meeting on Afghanistan could play a pivotal role in mediating between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
“The Afghan government just recently understood the crucial role by other superpowers in the region. Russia is of course one of the strongest countries. Russia can pay pivotal role in mediating between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Everybody in Afghanistan is hoping… that something good will happen after the conference on September 4 in Moscow; Russia is mediating and the Taliban will be also invited and the government could be also a participant of the conference…Until September 4, there could be some more progresses in Afghanistan because of the negotiation and interaction between the Afghan government and the Taliban on the very fast speed,” political analyst Intizar Khadim told RT.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia had never denied that it maintained contacts with the Taliban as it was part of the Afghan society.
“We maintain these contacts primarily in the interests of ensuring safety of Russian citizens and Russian institutions in Afghanistan, but also to encourage the Taliban to abandon armed confrontation and start a comprehensive dialogue with the government,” he told a media conference after talks with his Serbian counterpart.