Small Wars Journal

The Afghan Taliban's Deceptive Peace Initiative

The Afghan Taliban's Deceptive Peace Initiative by Marvin G. Weinbaum and Samad Sadri - The National Interest

Expectations for an Afghan peace process grew last month with the Taliban’s release of a letter addressed to the American people offering to negotiate. It was followed more recently by Afghan president Ashraf Ghani’s unconditional willingness to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political party and other significant concessions. Reacting to the two initiatives, many have concluded that the ice has been broken in finding a political solution to the Afghan conflict.

Yet cautiousness if not cynicism is in order. The content of the Taliban’s letter and subsequent messages should leave little doubt of its intentions. Rather than laying the ground for talks, the overture was designed to weaken the resolve of the American public and elected officials to support the continued presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and to drive a wedge between the Kabul government and the United States. Displaying a sophisticated understanding of psych-ops, the Taliban’s letter reflects a careful reading of the American public’s debate and frustrations over the Afghan war. By excluding the Kabul government as a participant in negotiations, the well-crafted three-thousand-word message also seeks to fuel long-standing suspicions in Kabul of a deal being struck behind its back…

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