Fox Research ("FR")
WEDNESDAY 28 OCTOBER 1998
Report No 66 – 98
FR has learnt that Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Alliance’s Chief Military Commander, has called a weeklong cease-fire in his battle with the Taleban militia. Additionally, senior Alliance identities are thought to be on their way to Afghanistan for an Alliance "emergency" meeting.
With special Saudi and Pakistani envoys busy shuttling between Kabul, Panjsher and Pakistan particular elements within the Taleban are now exhibiting certain willingness to conduct negotiations with the Alliance. This may be partly a reflection of the annihilation of the more recalcitrant factions of the Alliance. The consolidation of power in the North has also paved the way for the Taleban to conduct one on one discussions with the Alliance.
Recent gestures of goodwill from the Taleban – message of "congratulations" from the Jalalabad based militia – and the Taleban’s willingness to abandon certain towns in the North without a fight have signalled the Taleban’s softening towards the reinvigorated Alliance. The Taleban’s internal strife has also done much in (inadvertently) aligning the more moderate elements of the Taleban with the Alliance.
The Alliance’s recent decision to free Taleban POWs – brokered by the Afghan academic and Saudi government advisor Sayed Jalal - has also bode well for the prospects of dialogue between the warring factions.
The differences between the Alliance and the Taleban are great, but their common goals are greater; their tasks entail muting the differences, not exacerbating them. Certain Taleban identities want to mitigate the hostile environment in which their policies have put them. The Alliance believes that it is imperative to end the hostility in Afghanistan; they also see an opportunity in the introduction of a broad-based government in Kabul. Though common interests in rapprochement exist, the warring factions in Afghanistan must resolve a great many technical matters before proceeding further. Issues pertaining to the implementation of a broad-based government, human rights, women and terrorists must rank high on the list of matters that need to be discussed between the Alliance and the Taleban.
We must note, however, that it is politically impossible for Mullah Omar and the more radical elements of the Taleban to abandon abruptly their political – international as well domestic – positions that their ideology dictates. It is, therefore, of paramount importance for the backers of the Taleban to facilitate the promotion and elevation of the moderates within the militia.
Although the prospects of a national reconciliation seemed grim two months ago, it is now believed that the current political environment in Afghanistan is conducive for the implementation of a peace agreement in this war torn country.
The international community – under the auspices of the UN ("six-plus two" group) and OIC - must step up its efforts in further promoting dialogue between the two warring factions. Given the various factions’ reliance on foreign backing, the regional powers’ fears must also be alleviated thus eliminating future obstacles to peace efforts in Afghanistan.
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