The agreement between the USA and the Taliban is in place. The West is leaving and leaving Afghanistan in an uncertain future. For many Afghans, peace is the most important goal, says Florian Weigand.
If you strip the Doha peace agreement of all diplomatic frills and borders, there is unfortunately only one thing left: the capitulation of the West to notorious terrorists and strict Islamists who have only eaten a little chalk for this renewed deal by Donald Trump. What concessions did the United States make to the faith warriors on their way to signing? They ennobled them as negotiating partners on an equal footing and now pledged to withdraw all western troops from Afghanistan within 14 months. The Afghan government has never been openly involved and now has to grind its teeth at the deal.
On the other hand, no essential concessions: Sure, Afghanistan should not pose a terrorist threat to the West. In any case, this has not been the case since the US military intervention in 2001, not even in the areas that subsequently expanded, in which the Taliban was able to steadily consolidate its rule. They are targeting Afghanistan and Pakistan. Only the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” thinks internationally. Whether he is actually defeated in the Hindu Kush, as is often claimed, or only takes cover in his own positions until he can be sure that no more US fighter jets are circling his own trenches – that remains an open question for the global community but important question.
Concrete commitments against vague promises
Otherwise only vague: Nothing binding for the protection of human rights, for respect for the constitution of Afghanistan and the hard-won and always endangered women’s rights. It’s bitter to see how women’s rights activists are struggling to keep up in interviews with Afghan TV stations and then say that today’s Taliban are no longer yesterday’s. For real? The Taliban vice chief recently made a guest statement – of all things in the renowned “New York Times” – openly saying that women’s rights remain, but “as Islam intended”.
The West and the government in Kabul, on the other hand, have to keep a lot of concrete commitments. US troops will be withdrawn if the Taliban abide by the agreement. The Kabul government agrees to an exchange of prisoners. The Taliban fired 1,000 allegiances from the government against 5,000 prisoners of faith who are imprisoned in government prisons. A great deal for the Taliban. From a military point of view, they gain an additional half a division of fighters within a few days. A valuable pledge on the battlefield, as well as in future negotiations with the Afghan government, which are expected to start in ten days.
A glimmer of hope remains
How these should come to a result in the foreseeable future remains a mystery. There is not even a generally accepted government in Kabul. A few days ago, Ashraf Ghani wanted to take his oath of office, as did his opponent Abdullah Abdullah, because he was also claiming the election siege for himself. The ballot box, he claims, was manipulated in Ghani’s favor. It is easy for the Taliban, who are at least demonstrating unity to play their negotiating partners against each other.
Against this background, only one thing remains certain: Democratic Afghanistan as we know it today – with all its flaws and weaknesses – will cease to exist. The proportions in which democracy and the Islamic Emirate à la Taliban enter into a new constitutional amalgam remains open.
However, for most Afghans, the Doha agreement brings a glimmer of hope. Perhaps the fighting will end and no family will have to bury victims of war and terror. Much depends on whether the West is able – and willing – to call on the Taliban promises and – equally important – to actively support a government in Kabul. Peace always offers the opportunity for positive change. The Taliban cannot permanently exclude the country from international interaction, be it social media or international trade.