Following the signing of the peace agreement between the Afghan Taliban and the USA on February 29, 2020, most observers expected the violence in the country to subside, paving the way for negotiations among the Afghan people. No tangible progress in the Afghan reconciliation process — particularly the dialogue between President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the Taliban — has been achieved thus far, however.
This paper sheds light on the background and drivers of the Afghan presidential crisis between the current president Mohamed Ashraf Ghani and his bitter rival Abdullah Abdullah who again rejected the results of the recent presidential elections, declaring that he will seek to form a parallel government. The paper attempts to explore the prospects of the resolution of the crisis in light of the latest developments.
In light of the facts and complicated conditions that will result from the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, new international and regional inclinations and policies are emerging regarding the future of that country. Peace talks between the Taliban Movement and the Afghan government are expected to be complicated and protracted, probably extending for years. In case a political settlement is not reached between the Afghan government and the Movement, the US withdrawal could lead to the eruption of a large-scale civil war, some of whose protagonists would be supported by regional and international powers such as Russia and China which have political, economic and security interests that converge at times and conflict at others in Afghanistan. Some neighbouring countries such as Iran, Pakistan and India also have conflicting interests. The influence of India and Pakistan over actors in Afghanistan is well known. Besides, the two countries have mechanisms and means to influence the state of affairs in Afghanistan.
In a remarkable turn of events, the two parties to Afghanistan's 19-year conflict, the United States (U.S.) and the Taliban, decided to sit at the same table for direct talks aimed at nailing down a "peace deal". This qualitative shift is partly necessitated by massive human and material costs incurred by the two parties since 2001 without either of them being able to resolve the conflict militarily. Nor did the political system that was built in Afghanistan after the removal of the Taliban regime succeed in proving political or economic or security efficiency, which kept the Taliban alive and kicking to this day.
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