US-Afghanistan Taliban Peace Accord – Analysis
# Tags: US, Taliban, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Afghanistan, US-Taliban Peace Accord, Donald Trump’s foreign policy, US’ Establishment
Brigadier (Retd.) Dr. Ahsan ur Rahman Khan
Hopes versus Uncertainty
The much awaited and craved for peace accord between US and Afghanistan Taliban have been finally signed at Doha on 29th February 2020, in the presence of about fifty government representatives including foreign ministers of the regional and extra-regional countries. After long last it brought the hope of the end of human carnage of Afghans (over 100,000 by now) and widespread material devastation in Afghanistan.
However, it did not take more than a day after signing of the accord, that the ‘spoilers’ of this accord started appearing. Ashraf Ghani, the US-planted president of Afghanistan government, has refused to act on the very first action of the accord, i.e. the simultaneous release of the prisoners by his government and Afghanistan Taliban as a prelude to the next and most critical action i.e. the intra-Afghan dialogue in which the details of Peace Plan and its implementation have to be formulated. Almost simultaneously Iran announced the rejection of this peace accord. And, in response to Ashraf Ghani’s refusal to release the Afghanistan Taliban prisoners as required by the Accord, the Afghanistan Taliban have indicated that in that case their delegation will not go to Oslo for the planned intra-Afghan dialogue scheduled on 10 March 2020; and that Afghanistan Taliban are also no more bound to respect the reduction of violence understanding in as far as the forces of Ashraf Ghani’s government are concerned. Besides that, reportedly certain other ‘spoiler’ aspects could also be expected to be in waiting.
It is therefore of high significance to very carefully analyse all related factors and aspects so as to discern whether this peace accord could ultimately be implemented; and if so, in what timeframe.
The factors/aspects to be analysed include: (a) the often discerned policy differences between President Trump and US’ Establishment; (b) discerning the significant indications from the text of the peace accord; (c) the unfolding ground realities; (d) stake-holders in Afghanistan Peace Accord and their weightage; (e) other factions and groups likely to effect the Accord; (f) likely ‘spoilers’ and their weightage; (g) expected action(s) of regional and other relevant countries; (h) Final inference.
Policy Differences between President Trump and US’ Establishment
It is already well-known that US’ Establishment (Pentagon+CIA+US’ Military Industrial Complex) has always preferred application of the policy of ‘US’ militarism’ on different fake pretexts like ‘war on terror’, etc. in different parts of the world for extending and retaining their geostrategic and geopolitical stranglehold on the target countries/regions for geo-economic gains. Not only that, even creation and retention of de-stability in such regions due to US’ militarism results in the increased purchase of US’ military arsenal by many regional countries, thus further filling up the coffers of US’ Military Industrial Complex. Application of this policy is in vogue since the beginning of the post-WW2 era.
On the other hand, President Donald Trump had made it one of his most emphasised election promises in 2016 to end, what he called “stupid wars”, bring US’ troops back and spend the money on US’ public social welfare. However, in many cases US’ Establishment has so far managed to ‘spoil’ Trump’s orders for complete withdrawal of US troops from such foreign wars – the case of Syria being one of the examples.
That tussle was going on in the case of US’ war in Afghanistan too. However, now in 2020, US’ next presidential elections are to be held in November. And, in this election Trump wants to contest for his re-election as president, presenting to the voters the ‘fulfilled promise’ of withdrawal from the ‘stupid war’ in Afghanistan; so he has asserted his decision in the form of ultimately having a US-Taliban peace accord signed, despite the repeated indirect ‘spanners in the work’ by US’ Establishment.
Of course, US’ Establishment is not expected to accept this US-Taliban peace accord as ‘fait accompli’. It has its affiliates in Afghanistan to create infighting, de-stability, or/and other actions to spoil/obstruct/delay the implementation of the US-Taliban peace accord. Its affiliates in Afghanistan include the armed and trained Afghan militias of US’ CIA/Black Water (now known as Academi), the network of RAW (premier intelligence agency of US’ Establishment’s close ally – India), Afghanistan government’s RAW-affiliated premier intelligence agency NDS, Ashraf Ghani’s governmental structure including police and armed forces, Abdullah Abdullah’s Tajik faction, certain war lords like the Uzbek Rashid Dostam, etc.
Significant Indications from the Text of the Peace Accord
Text of the Accord document has been published by AL JAZEERA (1) and other media outlets. Careful reading of the text indicates certain very significant aspects relating to the ‘mindset’ of US government and Afghanistan Taliban while making their commitment in this peace accord. In that context, some of the following extracts of that document (with the discerned indication in brackets) are worth noting.
The title of the accord is “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America February 29, 2020”.
(Discerned Indication. US mentioned that Islamic State of Afghanistan (not recognized as a state) is known as the Taliban. It factually tantamount to US’ acceptance of Afghanistan Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as the pre-2001 de facto if not de jure government of Afghanistan; which, significantly, negates the legality of the subsequent US-planted governments in Afghanistan under Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani).
In Part One, according to Clause A, sub-clauses 1 and 2, US has committed that in the first 135 days US will reduce its forces to 8,500; and US’ allies and Coalition will also reduce their forces proportionately; and that United States, its allies, and the Coalition will withdraw all their forces from five (5) military bases. According to Clause B, sub-clauses 1 and 2; United States, its allies, and the Coalition will complete withdrawal of all remaining forces from Afghanistan within the remaining nine and a half (9.5) months, and will withdraw all their forces from remaining bases. (Discerned Indication. After dragging its feet for years, US had to ultimately submit to Afghanistan Taliban’s demand that all US, allied and Coalition forces to leave Afghanistan; and all their bases in Afghanistan to also be vacated.)
Part One, Clause C mentions: United States is committed to start immediately to work with all relevant sides on a plan to expeditiously release combat and political prisoners as a confidence building measure with the coordination and approval of all relevant sides, releasing up to 5,000 prisoners of Afghanistan Taliban and up to 1,000 prisoners of the other side by March 10, 2020, the first day of intra-Afghan negotiations, with the goal of releasing all the remaining prisoners over the course of the subsequent three months; and that, “ The United States commits to completing this goal”. (Discerned Indication. With such clear cut agreement and US’ written commitment to complete this goal regarding the mentioned release of prisoners, the refusal to act upon this US’ commitment by the ‘powerless and US-dependent’ president Ashraf Ghani is well-nigh impossible without tacit approval of US’ Establishment – for delaying the implementation of the Accord, and assisting Ashraf Ghani in coercing Afghanistan Taliban to accept his enhanced weightage in the forth-coming intra Afghan dialogue).
In Part One, Clause D US has committed that with the start of intra Afghan negotiations US will review its sanctions etc. on Afghanistan Taliban for removing these sanctions by 27 August 2020. And, in Clause E US has also committed that “With the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, the United States will start diplomatic engagement with other members of the United Nations Security Council and Afghanistan to remove members of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is, known as the Taliban from the sanctions list with the aim of achieving this objective by May 29, 2020”. (Discerned Indication. By planning to get UN sanctions against Afghanistan Taliban removed by May this year, and then removing US’ own sanctions further latter by August this year, US has kept its pressure stranglehold on Afghanistan Taliban. However, on the other hand, Afghanistan Taliban have also succeeded in compelling the US to itself have the UN sanctions against them removed.)
Part One Clause F is binding that “The United States and its allies will refrain from the threat or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Afghanistan or intervening in its domestic affairs”. (Discerned Indication. High significance of this clause, hard won by Afghanistan Taliban, is self-evident.)
Part Two of the Accord mentions different measures, given in 5 clauses, requiring “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban will take the following steps to prevent any group or individual, including al-Qa’ida, from using the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies”. (Discerned Indication. It is of paramount significance to be noted that US government acknowledged that the only politico-military organisation in Afghanistan capable of performing this task is that of Afghanistan Taliban; and that its own planted Ashraf Ghani government in the country is a political non-entity.)
The Unfolding Ground Realities
As mentioned earlier, Ashraf Ghani had refused to act upon the very first action of the Accord, of releasing the Afghanistan Taliban prisoners. As a result, Afghanistan Taliban had declared that in such a case they will not join the scheduled 10th March intra Afghan dialogue; and that they are also no more bound to respect the reduction of violence understanding in as far as the forces of Ashraf Ghani’s government are concerned.
US’ TV channel CNN report (2) dated 4 March 2020 quoted a US Defense official who mentioned that Afghanistan Taliban attacked Afghan National Defence and Security Force’s check points on 3rd March; and then US’ Forces in Afghanistan Spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett mentioned that the US conducted air strike on these Afghanistan Taliban. These reports clearly indicate escalation in violence, which is most likely to delay (if not completely sabotage) the commencement of intra Afghan dialogue.
However, the most significant aspect of this US’ air strike on Afghanistan Taliban is the timing of that US air strike on Afghanistan Taliban.
What happened was that US President Donald Trump made a phone call to the top political leader of Afghanistan Taliban Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar at 5.40 PM (Qatari Standard Time) on 3rd March and the talks continued for 35 minutes (3). About that call, extracts of the report dated 4 March 2020 of The Washington Post (4) worth noting are:-
“The phone call is notable for the stature it confers on Baradar. U.S. presidents typically deal directly with other heads of state or government, although there are exceptions”.
“In the statement, Baradar addressed Trump directly. “Mr President! You should act on the withdrawal of foreign troops and positive relations, and shouldn’t allow anyone to act against the deal,” Baradar said. “They would engage you in this long war.” That was apparently a reference to both Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, with whom Trump spoke Sunday, and domestic U.S. critics of the Taliban agreement”.
“The Taliban considers itself the real ruler of Afghanistan, as Baradar’s statement makes clear. The “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is an organized political and military force, and is committed to have cordial bilateral relations with you and the international community,” Baradar said, adding the United States should help rebuild Afghanistan after years of war”.
“The Taliban statement quotes Trump as saying the Taliban has been “fighting for your country” and that the time has come for the United States to leave. The Taliban said Trump also pledged that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will speak to Ghani “to remove hurdles in the way of intra-Afghan dialogue.” “We will take part in the rebuilding of Afghanistan.”
But then as for the US’ air strike on Afghanistan Taliban, according to CNN: “The strike comes hours after a telephone call between President Donald Trump and Taliban chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on Tuesday amid reports that the Taliban had resumed violence in Afghanistan days after the US and the Taliban signed a historic agreement in Qatar on Saturday” (5); and according to Independent Russian Television network (RT) “The escalation comes just hours after US President Donald Trump said that he had a “good long conversation” with Taliban political chief Mullah Baradar” (6).
It is obvious that, intended or unintended, that action of air strike by Pentagon (part of US’ Establishment) surely worked as a ‘spoiler’ of President Trump’s unprecedented act of reaching out on telephone to the political head of Afghanistan Taliban, for paving the way for implementing the Accord, thus facilitating the end of US’ Afghanistan war.
Stakeholders in Afghanistan Peace Accord and Their Weightage
The mindset of Afghan Masses (the most important stakeholder) is dominated by two major aspects – their ingrained psyche of extreme intolerance of foreign occupation/foreign-planted rule, and their strong urge to have peace in the country. It was due to that ingrained psyche that they joined the ranks of the then (1980s) Mujahedeen to oust the Soviet occupation and Soviet-planted government in Afghanistan. And, when the renegade Mujahedeen factions created peace-disturbing law and order situation in the country after Soviet withdrawal, it was that strong urge for peace due to which Afghan masses helped the then (1994) arisen Afghanistan Taliban to crush that menace and bring peace in the country. The current situation is almost a re-play of the same scenario. US’ occupation and its planted government and other manipulating tentacles are intolerable for the Afghan masses; and that, Afghan masses are craving for peace in their country.
In that context reports of the independent research and analysis organisation Afghanistan Analyst Network (AAN) are worth noting. AAN is registered in Germany and Afghanistan and is largely funded by Scandinavian countries (7). Its reports clearly highlight two aspects of the current ground realities in Afghanistan: (a) Afghanistan Taliban control/govern almost half of the districts of Afghanistan, and all these districts are peaceful; and (b) in many other districts which are under control of the US-planted government, but Afghanistan Taliban also have some ingress, the government officials and nominees of Afghanistan Taliban cooperate with each other in administering public services. That is an undeniable indication that Afghanistan Taliban will get support of Afghan masses in ousting US/NATO forces and US-planted government and other tentacles, and bringing peace in the country through application of this Accord.
Afghanistan Taliban are the next important stakeholder in Afghanistan Peace Accord. In their context it is worth noting that while in 1980s the Mujahedeen, supported by US with a coalition of about 50 countries, succeeded in ousting the Soviet Union; the Afghanistan Taliban, single-handedly without the support of any foreign power have compelled the occupiers – US with a coalition of about 50 countries – to accept defeat and withdraw from Afghanistan. It is that mettle of Afghanistan Taliban’s politico-military strength and battle-worthiness due to which US has entrusted them the task of getting Afghanistan rid of the anti-US/Allies elements, rather than entrusting this task to its own planted government and the horde of that government’s affiliates. Besides that, they are the only organised politico-military organisation upon whom the Afghan masses are placing their trust, as mentioned above.
It may sound strange, but it is a fact that US’ President Donald Trump also has high stake in the implementation of this Accord. Everybody knows the fact that though at least at this stage there are comparatively more chances of Donald Trump’s success in the upcoming US’ presidential election; yet it can also not be ruled out that failure in implementing this Accord hence failing to fulfill the long-standing election promise of withdrawing US’ forces from Afghanistan – so much craved for by US’ masses – may as well prove to be Donald Trump’s electioneering waterloo.
Other Factions and Groups Likely To Effect the Accord
Ashraf Ghani’s government is already in serious disarray. His election, with merely 9 to 11 percent of voters casting their votes, highly controversial months’ long counting of those votes, reports of widespread rigging, etc. has prompted his Tajik political opponent Abdullah Abdullah to declare rejection of this election result. And, as reported by Afghanistan Times (8) dated 2 March 2020, Abdullah Abdullah has also announced his intention to establish an inclusive government in Afghanistan, also indicating that his team (known as the Stability and Partnership Team) would be appointing governors of Northern Faryab, Takhar, Badakhshan, and Central Daikundi provinces (though according to law only President Ashraf Ghani is entitled to appoint provincial governors.) Ashraf Ghani’s government in such a weak position, and totally dependent upon US’ military and financial aid, cannot therefore be expected to successfully play the role of ‘spoiler’ of the Accord for much longer time.
Northern Alliance has long been a reckonable politico-military organisation since the time of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan till the US occupation of the country. It was composed of the Tajik Faction and the Uzbek Warlord Dostam Faction, besides some other lesser groups. However, at present it is not functioning as an alliance.
In this context, the ethnic composition has also to be kept in view. According to the data last updated on 10 September 2019 by World Atlas.com (9), the ethnic composition of Afghanistan is Pashtuns – 42 %, Tajiks – 27 %, Uzbek – 9 %, Hazara – 8 %, Aimak – 4 %, Turkmen – 3 %, Baluchi – 2 %, other groups – 5 %.
Northern Alliance was initially composed mostly the Tajik Faction. Tajiks are a Persian-speaking Iranian ethnic group native to Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. They have historical rivalry for power with Pashtuns. However, they could rule Kabul once for just nine months in 1929, till ousted by the Pashtuns; and second time after Soviet withdrawal according to Peshawar Accord, till ousted again. Tajik Faction had its political leadership, but its actual driving force was its military commander Ahmad Shah Masoud. When Mujahedeen were fighting to oust the Soviet occupation, Tajik Faction also did fight against the Soviets; but Ahmad Shah Masoud also did play the ‘double game’ of entering into a secret agreement with Soviet’s Army in Afghanistan for gaining political advantages, which he did gain. That fact of his secret agreement with Soviet Army is recorded in official documents, as also reported by media, including the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) (10). That RAWA report also shows the following photo of Ahmad Shah Masoud with his Shurae Nezar commanders discussing operational plan on a map with the Army Generals of the Soviet-planted Afghanistan government (then known as Parcham government).
(Ahmad Shah Massoud, Qasim Fahim and other commanders of Shura-e-Nezar with Parchami (Russian puppets regime) army generals Nabi Azimi, Noor-ul-Haq Ulomi, Asif Delawar and others.)
After the death of Ahmad Shah Masoud, leadership of Tajik Faction has remained with Abdullah Abdullah. He along with his Faction’s troops supported US’ invasion of Afghanistan to topple Afghanistan Taliban’s government; and was rewarded by US by getting him made the foreign minister in the US-planted Hamid Karzai government. Later, when he contested election as president of the country and lost to Ashraf Ghani, US got him made the CEO in US-planted Ashraf Ghani’s government.
The Uzbek Warlord Dostam’s Faction had joined Northern Alliance later. Dostam is a typical ‘side changer opportunist’ and extremely brutal by nature. He was one of the commanders of Afghanistan National Army, commanding mostly Uzbek troops in the fight against the Mujahedeen who were fighting to oust the Soviet-planted government. However, when the fall of that government became evident, he joined the Mujahedeen. He switched sides many times joining Hamid Karzai’s and later Ashraf Ghani’s governments. However, besides being known as the ‘side changer’, he is also known for his most brutal war crime in which he got hundreds (thousand by certain reports) of the Afghanistan Taliban prisoners suffocated to death in sealed containers. It is therefore almost certain that Afghanistan Taliban will never remove Dostam from their revenge list – taking revenge is deeply ingrained in Afghan’s psyche and is also one of the mandatory codes of ‘Pastunwalay’ (the Pashtun code of conduct).
Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)
ANSF (also termed as Afghan National Defence and Security Forces – ANDSF) comprise of Afghan National Army, Air Force, Police and NDS (Afghanistan’s premier intelligence agency). According to estimate US has spent about 70 billion USD in raising, equipping and training of ANSF. Out of these generally Afghan National Army (ANA) was expected by US/ISAF to do the job of beating off the Afghanistan Taliban and stabilising the US-planted government in the country. However, ANSF failed.
Though there have been claims by US’ authorities about the improvement in the fighting capabilities of ANSF, yet repeated reports indicate facts to the contrary.
A report by Global Security.org, uploaded on Google in January 2019, highlighted that, “In 2018, reporting from the lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations indicated that the ANDSF was manned at roughly 38,272 or 11% below their authorized strength of 352,000. Critical specialties such as special operations, aviation maintenance, and pilots are also in increasingly short supply. Additionally, each successive fighting season for the past few years has seen an increase in casualties, with limited data to suggest that trend would subside in the near term”; and that “Casualties (those injured or killed in action) contribute to ANDSF attrition rates. On January 24, 2019, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that about 45,000 Afghan security personnel have been killed since he became president in September 2014” (11).
Similarly, a research paper dated 18 February 2018 by Baris Ates, from Turkish Armed Forces, brought to light similar findings. It highlighted, “Despite the intense efforts, which last a decade, Afghan National Army (ANA) still challenges with the manning problems. ANA is the key Afghan institution, which can play a vital role in stabilization of the country. However, even with the progress to reach total end strength, challenges remain. The first and maybe the most important challenge is the ongoing attrition problem. While the recruiting level of ANA is very high, the attrition rate is very high also. In their first fighting season leading combat operations, ANA units have had high number of casualties, which multiply the desertion rates”; and, “ANA attrition comprises losses due to separation, retirements, dropped from rolls (DFR), killed in action (KIA), death other than KIA, exempted (medical discharge), and captured. However DFR is the largest component of attrition and accounts for over 80% of attrition” (12).
Besides such comparatively lesser battle-worthiness of ANDSF, there is another aspect which has to be kept in mind i.e. learning from the similar experience and ultimate fate of the Soviet-raised, equipped and trained Afghan National Forces. Those also suffered from similar problems; and when the downfall of Soviet-planted Afghanistan government became apparent, there were large scale defections in which large number of troops of those forces went along with their weapons to join their tribes – and even commanders like Dostam switched sides to join the Mujahedeen. With the very apparent withdrawal of US and Allied forces, and the ultimate ‘dethroning’ of Ashraf Ghani’s government, a repeat of that aspect cannot be ruled out.
In any case, at the least, ANDSF (with the exception of NDS) is not likely to be a spoiler of the implementation of this US-Taliban Peace Accord.
Likely Spoilers and Their Weightage
Though according to latest reports the fighting strength of ISIS/IS/Daesh has been considerably reduced by now, yet it certainly remains one of the spoilers, as demonstrated by its claimed attack in Kabul just a week after signing of the Accord, killing 29 and wounding 61. In its context, it should also not be lost sight of that according to the published reports of 2017 and 2018 by Tass (13), Voice of America (VOA) (14) and other media, US was then accused by the former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai and foreign ministers of Russia and Iran of supporting Daesh terrorists in Afghanistan.
Besides Daesh, the CIA/Black Water (now known as Academi)’s trained and equipped armed Afghan militias, Indian intelligence agency RAW’s network in Afghanistan, and Afghanistan’s India-affiliated intelligence agency NDS, are also the expected spoilers of the Accord. Individually their weightage may not be considerable, yet if these and Daesh are employed in a coordinated manner, as is likely, by CIA+RAW, then implementation of the Accord may face serious obstructions.
Another possible spoiler could be the elements of the Iran’s IRG’s militia Fatemiyoun Brigade now present mostly in the central Afghanistan’s Hazara (Shiite) community area. The credible independent research and consultancy group GlobalSecurity.org highlighted that “Liwa Fatemiyoun, literally “Fatimid Banner”, also known as Fatemiyoun Division, Fatemiyoun Brigade, or Hezbollah Afghanistan, is an Afghan Shia militia formed in 2014 to fight in Syria”; and that “The Fatemiyoun Division is an IRGC-QF-led militia that recruits from the millions of undocumented Afghan migrants and refugees in Iran, coercing them to fight in Syria under threat of arrest or deportation” (15). And, the latest report dated 7 February 2020 of Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty has mentioned “With the Syrian war ebbing, several thousand Fatemiyoun fighters have returned to their homeland, prompting fears that Iran could mobilize the proxy group to target U.S. interests in neighboring Afghanistan”. However, the same report has also clarified that “Rahmatullah Nabil, the two-time head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS), the country’s main intelligence agency, estimated that between 2,500 to 3,000 Fatemiyoun fighters have returned to Afghanistan. “At this stage it seems they are not in a position to pose an immediate threat to Afghanistan’s national security,” said Nabil, who was intelligence chief from 2010-12 and 2013-15. “They are not organized but scattered in different parts of the country.” But he said the former members of the Fatemiyoun Brigade could pose a threat if they “establish a central command” (16).
Other factions which have to be taken into consideration are the various tribal/ethnic/warlords groups. Out of these which have significance are the Tajik Faction now under Abdulla Abdullah, Uzbek Faction, Gulbadin Hekmatyar Pastun Faction, and Hazara Faction, besides some other lesser groups.
Out of these the Tajik Faction is of higher significance not only because it represents the largest minority in Afghanistan, but also because it has a history of secretly getting military and financial support from India, to fight against the Afghanistan Taliban. Details of that ‘India-Tajik secret coalition’ have been published even by an Indian daily English newspaper The Hindu dated 01 September 2019. The report is titled ‘How India Secretly Armed Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance’. That report quotes India’s Ambassador in Tajikistan Bharath Raj Muthu Kumar, who provided all the details of that deep secret link between Indian government and Tajik leader Ahmad Shah Massoud the then military commander of Northern Alliance. According to Ambassador Muthu Kumar India’s secret support deal with the Tajik leader against Afghanistan Taliban started in 1996, when Afghanistan Taliban captured Kabul. And the reason for providing that support by India to Ahmad Shah Massoud, in the words of Ambassador Muthu Kumar was “He is battling someone we should be battling. When Massoud fights the Taliban, he fights Pakistan”. That Indian support included armaments, mortars, ordnance, medicine, combat and winter clothes, packaged food, and funds through Ahmad Shah Massoud’s brother in London to keep the delivery circuitous through those countries which helped that outreach. Those supplies reached regularly at Dushanbe the capital of Tajikistan, where Tajikistan customs ensured its smooth transfer to Farkhor at the border between Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan. At Farkhor, Ahmad Shah Massoud maintained around ten helicopters for his war effort. India provided maintenance support for those helicopters; and later India also gifted him two MI-8 helicopters. Besides that India also established at Farkhor a medical hospital with operation theaters and doctors, etc (17). That massive Indian military and financial support to Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance through the Tajik Faction leader against Afghanistan Taliban, and the support of the countries – Tajikistan and even UK, is an important aspect to be kept in mind while pondering upon the prospect of implementation of US-Taliban peace accord.
On the whole, therefore, it is the Tajik Faction which is more likely to be the main spoiler/hurdle in the implementation of the US-Taliban Accord. Though its current leader Abdullah Abdullah does not appear to prefer pursuance of the militaristic pressure policy like Ahmad shah Massoud, yet he is most likely to get full support from India’s Raw network, CIA’s network, and US Establishment tentacles, in his bid to claim, if not the dominant, at least an equal place in the next Afghanistan government to be formed through the intra Afghan dialogue.
All other factions/groups do not have the capability of becoming ‘threatening’ spoiler of the implementation of the Accord; though these too will certainly put up hard bargaining to get their desired shares in the next government.
Expected action(s) of Regional and other Relevant Countries
Out of all the countries, only India is vehemently opposed to this Accord. That is so because for decades India has been trying to entrench its military and offensive intelligence tentacles in Afghanistan to open up the second (western) front against its ‘hallucinated’ enemy Pakistan, by launching its terrorism and subversion activities in Pakistan. Since the emergence of Afghanistan Taliban, India knew it that Afghanistan Taliban would never accept that Indian role in Afghanistan. It was for that reason that India provided massive military and financial aid to Tajik Faction (part of Northern Alliance), because Tajik Faction was anti-Afghanistan Taliban – (remember Indian Ambassador Muthu Kumar’s remark about thus providing massive military and financial help to the Tajik Faction, “He is battling someone we should be battling. When Massoud fights the Taliban, he fights Pakistan”). Subsequently, India succeeded in installing its desired ‘tentacles’ in Afghanistan with the help of US/ NATO forces’ agencies, and the ‘on sale’ Afghan political leaders/elite, as also Afghanistan’s premier intelligence agency NDS. Buoyed with that success, since long, India has been launching its terrorism and subversion activities in Pakistan through its long chain of consulates established for that purpose along Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan. However, the 29th February US- Taliban Accord broke all Indian hopes of continuing with those activities. India will therefore surely use all its efforts to employ its RAW network along with its existing and possible ‘allies’ i.e. NDS, CIA network, CIA/Black Water (Academi) militias, Daesh, and the ‘purchased’ Afghan political leaders/elite to scuttle the US-Taliban Accord.
Though since long Iran has traditionally been anti-Afghanistan Taliban and pro-Tajik Faction (part of Northern Alliance) and Hazara Faction; yet for some months now there are reports that Iran has started supporting Afghanistan Taliban. There could be two reasons for that change of Iran’s policy: (a) like US, Iran has also become convinced that Afghanistan Taliban cannot be subdued and shall ultimately dominate the next government in Afghanistan; and (b) scuttling of US-Taliban Accord may entail longer stay of US forces in the country, next door to Iran, which Iran can ill afford.
Most of the regional countries and many European countries are keen to have peace and stability in Afghanistan so that de-stability of the region is also removed, paving the way for commencement of trade, development investment, FDI etc, of these countries with Afghanistan.
The aforementioned discerned indications (of the ‘mindset’ of President Donald Trump and his negotiating team as also of Afghanistan Taliban) from the Accord document, the relevant facts, and analysis, clearly indicate that:-
US and NATO have finally accepted that with all their military might they cannot defeat Afghanistan Taliban, and that staying further in Afghanistan is becoming more and more perilous; hence they were left with no option but to withdraw from the country. Besides that US also realised the fact that Afghanistan Taliban are the only politico-military organisation, with statecraft mettle and support of Afghan masses in Afghanistan, which could form an inclusive government in Afghanistan after US/NATO withdrawal; as also crush any anti-US/Allies rogue groups in the country which could harm US/Allies interests. US also realised that Afghanistan Taliban could not afford to give up any of their principle demands; though they are pragmatic enough to cooperate on the peripheral issues. Hence President Trump accepted all of the principle demands of Afghanistan Taliban.
Most certainly India, along with its existing and likely tentacles/allies/proxies in Afghanistan (RAW’s network, CIA’s network, CIA/Black Water (Academi)’s militias, NDS’ network, Daesh, the ‘purchased’ Afghan warlord(s) and politicians/elite, etc.) will try its utmost to scuttle, obstruct, or at the least spoil implementation of the Accord to pave the way for enhancing the ‘pressure weightage’ of its longtime ally Tajik Faction under Abdullah Abdullah for getting a dominating position in the inclusive government to be formed in the country. Such Indian efforts are most likely to strongly come in play during the intra Afghan dialogue, exploiting the traditional factionalism of Afghans in which each Afghan ethnic group is likely to create lot of problem in demanding even ‘out of proportion’ share in the inclusive Afghanistan government to be formed.
However, since US/NATO are to stay in control of Afghanistan, albeit with reduced strength, for another 14 months; US will most likely be compelled, and still be in a position, to use its politico-military weight to compel the ‘problematic’ Afghan Factions to accept only their just share in the formulation of the new inclusive Afghanistan government. That compulsion for US is due to two overriding reasons: (a) President Donald Trump’s urge to show to US’ public his demonstrated success in fulfilling his election promise made to US voters, of getting out of the ‘stupid war’ in Afghanistan, latest by November this year when presidential elections are scheduled; and (b) President Donald Trump’s acceptance of the fact that only the well-organised Afghanistan Taliban , with massive support of Afghan masses, are capable of forming and functioning a stable government in the country, which could control the rogue anti-US/Allies groups in the country, as also provide US the chance to have mutually beneficial trade and other economic relations with Afghanistan.
In essence, therefore: (a) the US-Taliban Peace Accord is most likely to meet lot of problems in its implementation, involving serious obstructions, and delays, etc. However, there are much higher chances that ultimately much before November this year the Accord shall be implemented; (b) the thus formed Afghanistan government will be inclusive, with dominant role of Afghanistan Taliban, and Afghanistan Taliban will also show pragmatism by accepting the due share in the government of other Afghan faction; (c) the feared chances, of re-eruption of prolonged infighting of Afghans, are less likely; and (d) there are higher chances that the thus formed Afghanistan government will gradually achieve internal stability, as also start slowly treading the path of economic recovery through economic interaction with US and many regional and extra-regional countries.
(2).https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/04/politics/taliban-airstrikes-afghanistan-us/index.html (Hereinafter cited as CNN Report dated 4 March 2020)
(5). CNN Report dated 4 March 2020. op.cit.