The recent US-Taliban agreement is unlikely to lead to early stabilisation in Afghanistan. Most probably, it will introduce the next stage in the intra-Afghan conflict, the ultimate results of which we cannot predict, writes Mikhail Konarovsky, Ambassador Extraordniary and Plenipotentiary, senior fellow with the MGIMO University Institute for International Studies.
The recent agreement between the United States and the Taliban has not yet led either to an easing of tensions in Afghanistan or to the real launch of a negotiating process. All of this can be interpreted as the failure of the US-Taliban deal.
Americans are evidently concerned by the fact that at this crucial moment, the government in Kabul has continued to demonstrate its internal weakness, which debilitates it even more vis-à-vis the Taliban. The disagreement within Kabul’s ruling elite threatens to evolve into a diarchy or, rather, polyarchy in the country. The recent simultaneous inauguration in Kabul of two presidential contenders – Ashraf Ghani, who won a dubious victory, and Abdullah Abdullah, the former number two man in the Afghan government, who refused to recognise the results of the vote – has demonstrated that the political situation in the country is in a deadlock.
It is quite evident that before launching any negotiations with the Taliban, both contenders will need to reach a consensus, including with respect to the composition of their group of negotiators. However, forming it could take some time, and the Americans may again end up being negotiators between Ghani and Abdullah: a similar situation transpired following the no-less dubious presidential election in Afghanistan in 2014. At the same time, Washington needs, at least, to formally launch the negotiations process, which could take twists and turns. In particular, one cannot rule out behind-the-stage separate tactical agreements between the Taliban and part of the current Afghan elite, which are aimed at weakening of Kabul on the whole, etc.
Meanwhile, the Taliban, who take all these circumstances into account, do not push hard and are clearly going to strengthen their own positions in the country especially as the Americans are beginning to wind up their military presence.
Nevertheless, the Americans will hardly renege on their support of Ghani even though they understand the complexity of the general situation in Afghanistan and of the Kabul-Taliban negotiations. Despite all the disagreements with Washington, he remains its most loyal ally in the country.