Afghanistan: time to wage war for peace?


Contrary to expert expectations and the predictions of many analysts, the death of the Taliban’s leader brought about almost no struggle for succession in the group, notes Moh. Sayed Madadi, an Afghan Fulbright Graduate Scholar at New York University. Haibatullah Akhundzada (left), a savvy religious scholar, was selected on May 25 by the leadership council to replace the cunning Akhtar Mohammand Mansour. A potentially unifying leader, Akhundzada possesses no skill and experience in either leading an insurgency or managing diplomatic relations, he writes for The Diplomat:

Although there was no immediate struggle for the top spot, Mansour’s death nonetheless opened a leadership vacuum in the group, one that can hardly be filled by Akhundzada alone. Mansour was a meticulous war strategist, a charismatic and, at times, brutal leader, in addition to being a persuasive diplomat. ….. Akhundzada is reportedly an austere religious leader who is known for his very strict adherence to Islamic law, as evidenced by his brutal verdicts as a Sharia judge. He is also reported to be a clean man, leading a very simple life like the Taliban’s one-eyed founder, Mullah Omar. Mansour, meanwhile, was involved in drug trafficking for personal gain and lived a lavish lifestyle.

Now is the best time for the Afghan government to move decisively against the Taliban, making the most of a clear victory on the battlefield, argues Madadi, a former Hurford Fellow of the National Endowment for Democracy.

NATO’’s military forces have benefited from structured and systematic engagement with civil society at the policy and implementation level, it states:

Ultimately, civil society organisations will have a voice to also hold NATO to account and improve its work in this area. The results will be shared and discussed across NATO’s Secretariat and command structures, including units which are engaged in integrating gender perspectives in areas such as building defence capacity, integrity of armed forces, training, curbing the illicit use of small arms and light weapons, combatting terrorism and violent extremisms, and other areas. The results of discussions with the Civil Society Advisory Panel and its recommendations will also be shared with Allied and partner nations.

As the Afghan Army enters its second year fighting without the direct support of international combat forces, its performance grows, Madadi adds:

News of army checkpoints being overrun or military units running out of munitions while fighting now rarely make the headlines. Enjoying air support and growing more accustomed to fighting on its own, Afghan security forces have a good chance to push the Taliban back hard enough for them to see no viable option except seriously returning to peace talks. It only requires the strategic vision and political will of the Afghan government to commit itself to fighting this long war, while also cultivating regional and international support for peace.


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