Former UN and EU Special Envoy to Afghanistan and the chairman of AAN’s advisory board Francesc Vendrell talked to the Voice of America about the much-reported contacts between the Afghan government and some elements of the Taliban on possible peace negotiations. Here some relatively expansive quotes from the 19 October article.
Francesc Vendrell who is an experienced negotiator says that the US preconditions for the Taleban entering talks – lay down their arms, renounce al-Qaida, and accept the Afghan constitution – are really negotiating points.
‘I do not believe for a minute that these will be preconditions. These are issues to be discussed at the table of negotiations, but not as preconditions. I think most of us have seen it this way from the beginning, just as the Taleban preconditions – that they will not sit at the table until the Western forces have withdrawn – will stand. I think that this again will be another issue for discussion.’
No one can predict with any certainty what the end political solution will be. But Francesc Vendrell thinks it will involve not a coalition government, but some other form of local and regional level power-sharing.
’A coalition, personally, I do not see it. I do not think it is realistic, or if it were, it would last a few days. Power-sharing, under which the Taleban commanders would exert power in some provinces and districts in the south and possibly the east, I think that is different. I think that is more conceivable.’
Vendrell also said that Pakistan’s role in the new talks, if there is any, remains murky.
‘The imponderable is, is Pakistan trying to sabotage these efforts? Are they simply neutral? Are the U.S. [officials] able to persuade the Pakistani army and the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] to at least deny themselves the temptation to sabotage such contacts unless they are through them [the Pakistanis]? I do not know.’
Read the original article ‘Afghan Peace Talks Face Tough Obstacles’ by Gary Thomas here.
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020