Wise to say it is impossible to appease those who believe a clash of civilization with the West will restore Islam as a world power. While Western power is able to incapacitate the Taliban, its expanding support base can only be eroded by policies that Arab and those with strong belief in Islam see as just. Even the destruction of the Taliban will do little to end its terror campaign as long as the underlying conditions that initiated the group’s emergence and popularity- Western hegemony, political intrusion and economic isolation persists.
The past week there have been talks about an ongoing negotiation between the U.S. and the Taliban; to those who understand the U.S principle not to negotiate with terrorists, it is beyond comprehension that a decade after the invasion of Afghanistan the United States is considering talking to a group known to have committed atrocities against U.S. interests at home and abroad; a group known for gross human rights violation against women and its own people, a group that has sworn not to give up until the last blood of the foreign invaders is shed on its soil.
While in power in Afghanistan, the Taliban became notorious internationally by committing the worst act of aggression and human rights violation against women. The goal of the Taliban was to create a state where the dignity and chasteness of women may once again be sacrosanct. Women must wear veils in public based on the Taliban’s belief that by exposing the face would corrupt men not related to them to feel attraction and lust towards women.
Women were not allowed to work or go to school but were only allowed to study the Quran. Those found studying in private schools risk death by execution; and those sick could not see male doctors unless accompanied by a male member of the family. Women, who violate the Taliban laws, faced public flogging or possibility of a shot to the head for gross violations. Despite international criticism and the decade old war that led to its disorganization and incapacitation, the group has maintained its interest in establishing a rule by Sharia law in Afghanistan.
Mullah Omar leader of the group does not rule out the possibility of negotiation with the United States or sharing power with the current administration in Afghanistan. In his current statement, he maintained that the Taliban is not willing to monopolize power however; he made clear the Islamic state of Afghanistan considers the establishment of an independent Islamic regime as a mechanism for sustainability of religious and interests of the country and the countrymen.
The goal of the Taliban is to fight Western domination and involvement in Afghanistan, drive out foreign forces and then dismantle the administration of Hamid Karzai before taking over the country and establishing Islamic rule. Whoever thinks the Taliban is true to its words on the peace process, should understand the group has made promises in the past that was never fulfilled. Any peace negotiations with the Taliban that is not properly defined, will only lead to a rule by Sharia law and eventual gross human rights violations.
Whenever there seems to be a negotiation in place, the Taliban always seize the opportunity to carry out suicide attacks. The assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, former Afghan President and head of the government peace talk with the Taliban, should bear witness to the group’s lack of commitment when it comes to negotiating with any party that does not share its religious beliefs and stance on the rule by Sharia.
Mullah Omah has expressed his opposition to U.S. bases in Afghanistan and does not accept limited withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops; he made clear the Taliban will not accept an imposed regime. While the U.S. cannot continue its war in perpetuity, it is unclear whether the U.S. should trust the Taliban as a peace partner at this time. The group has indicated it would not give up its armed struggle; the Taliban has said its military campaign had forced the Americans to the negotiating table so, it is unclear whether the group is sincere with its peace talks, when it believes it is winning the war against America through incessant attacks. The Taliban recently called for the killing of Americans and attacks on Western targets, over the burning of the Quran; the attacks has since led to the death of American servicemen and civilians another testimony the group is not ready for peace.
The United State must be careful in dealing with the Taliban; there is no concrete indication the group is a true peace partner considering its actions over the years. To think the Taliban is ready for peace while the Karzai government is still in power in Afghanistan is beyond understanding; what the Taliban wants is to drive out foreign forces and then wage a new war against the Karzai government which the Taliban believed is corrupt and against what the group stands for.
Any negotiation leading to immediate withdrawal of foreign forces in the country will give room to sectarian conflict, a takeover by the Taliban, and the establishment of Sharia law. The Taliban will not give up its armed struggle even with the exit of foreign forces as long as the Karzai government does not share its beliefs. Any negotiation with the group while it continues to strike targets and attack foreign troops will only show the weakness of the United States and NATO’s failure to contain the group and establish a lasting peace in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has become stronger since talks about negotiation began and the group is beginning to conclude it is winning the war. A decade of war in Afghanistan has not been able to completely dismantle the group and while the U.S. and NATO must end the war, the peace process and negotiations should be genuine with a strong Afghan government able to defend itself in place, before any withdrawal is initiated. The attack of April 15, 2012 on NATO post and the Afghan parliament, is yet another indication the Taliban is a group that cannot be trusted; a withdrawal without a concrete assurance of end to insurgency, will eventually see the Taliban back in power in Afghanistan.
As long as the Taliban continues to be funded by the narcotic trade, there will be no peace in Afghanistan. The international community must work to end corruption in the Karzai government to prevent opposition to the way it is running state affairs; efforts should be made to end drug trade in the country and to establish a lasting peace, there must be a resolution between the current government and the Taliban. However, the Taliban must be ready to give up its armed struggle, its violation of human rights and the bombing campaigns to be seen as a true peace partner or else, the United States must exercise caution before negotiation with the group.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade is an expert in general law, foreign relations, and the United Nation; He is the author of ‘Murder of Diplomacy’ (2010) and ‘Wills Law and Contests’ (2011).