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Some Experts “Cautiously Optimistic” About U.S./Taliban Peace Talks

Some Experts “Cautiously Optimistic” About U.S./Taliban Peace Talks

Context:

The pending negotiations between the U.S. and Taliban have some experts “cautiously optimistic”. Peace Science shows us that successful peace talks often depend on the type of leverage possessed by each party.

In the News:

“The United States has restarted conversations with the Taliban, the hardline Islamist group that America and NATO set out to dislodge more than 16 years ago. It’s part of the Trump administration’s effort to end America’s longest war, which has killed around 2,400 Americans and more than 30,000 Afghan civilians. It’s still unclear if the new talks will lead to a political resolution; one expert I spoke to put the chances of success at around 20 percent. But others see it as an ambitious and bold move that could potentially lead to some kind of tenuous peace for the country. And the reason for this renewed optimism, surprisingly, has to do with the Taliban itself.”

Why the Taliban might be serious about peace talks:
“First, it’s something the Taliban has wanted for a long time. The group believes the US can deliver what it wants the most, which is the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and the removal of Taliban officials from international sanctions lists, says Courtney Cooper, who worked on Afghanistan at the National Security Council from 2015 to 2017 and is now at the Council on Foreign Relations…Second, some experts believe the Taliban has moderated their stance — to a certain extent. The changes range from allowing women and minorities to play a bigger role within the organization to curbing some of its most unpalatable behavior…And finally, the Taliban has realized the international community doesn’t want it to rule singlehandedly once more in Afghanistan, experts say. It has lately downplayed its desire to reestablish the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — their name for the country when they ruled it — and may be more open to some kind of power-sharing agreement. That, at least on the surface, seems like a departure from their hardline former stance. “The idea of peace talks are far less heretical now than they were six years ago,” Walsh, who has spent nearly a decade working on the Afghan peace process, told me.”

Support From Peace Science:

During peace talks, success often depends on the leverage possessed by each party. The Taliban’s growing control has increased their leverage and authority to negotiate a peace agreement.

  • Agreements mediated with credibility leverage last twice as long as those without.
  • Capability leverage is most effective to facilitate the signing of peace agreements.
  • Credibility leverage is most effective at generating durable and longer-lasting peace after the agreement is signed.

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