Afghanistan, an Effort to Negotiate and Peace...
Afghanistan, an Effort to Negotiate and Peace in the Shadow of Distrust
Dr. Tayebeh Vaezi
At present, Taliban peace talks with the central government of Kabul are in a deadlock. Even the promises and the peace package offered by Ashraf Ghani in the Kabul process and the support of the countries at the Tashkent Summit have not been able to persuade the Taliban to negotiate a road map.
The Taliban will only negotiate in a situation where it is operationally and financially as well as in terms of external support in a weak position and cannot imagine an outlook for taking the power - albeit locally - for itself, and on the other hand the central Afghan government has the power and influence to exercise sovereignty.
In spite of the unfavorable conditions of the Taliban, the hope of opening up and increasing foreign support for regaining power and at the same time, the weakness of the central government, has led the Taliban to imagine -by examining its status and the government of national unity- that accepting peace and making agreement with the bankrupt Afghan government would blow a new life on the dead body of that government.
Concerning talks with Pakistan on the one hand, Ashraf Ghani’s will for negotiation led to extending an invitation to the Pakistani prime minister to officially visit Kabul and hold bilateral talks in March. However, at the same time and after talks between the Pakistani military forces, first Kunar area and then the Khost area in Afghanistan were attacked.
From its early days, Pakistan has considered Afghanistan as the strategic depth of its foreign policy against India. Therefore, with the expansion of US support for India's influence in Afghanistan after announcing its new strategy, it will not be willing to surrender Afghanistan to India in any circumstances.
Despite the decline in Pakistan's importance to the United States, ISIS presence in Afghanistan and Russia's growing concern about the expansion of the influence of this group in Central Asia has opened a window of opportunity in front of Pakistan to become important in Russian foreign policy equations in the region and gain the Russian support.
The Islamic Republic of Iran can play a more effective role in line with its national interests in the region through taking the following measures: making efforts to provide benefits through cultural-economic activities; the use of public diplomacy and the impact on public opinion and the strengthening of soft power through the strengthening of specialized knowledge and manpower; increasing know-how about its eastern neighbors, using trained and graduated manpower capacity in the form of basic and applied research projects in different fields; creating an opportunity-oriented attitude amongst politicians and decision-makers and confronting a threat-oriented view; strengthening the economic and cultural sectors of the ministry of foreign affairs as well as related institutions and paying special attention to economic diplomacy and identification of various ethnic, religious, and political groups in these countries and making attempt to identify the commonalities and differences in order to communicate in a balanced and useful manner with all these groups.
Strengthening the country's economic advantages in the production of products for these countries, transit routes, medical facilities (such as hospitals, etc.), tourism and the attraction of foreign investment from these countries and efforts to prevent conflicts in competing parts, by defining common areas of cooperation, are among other approaches that can be recommended to improve the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran.