Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s unannounced stop in Afghanistan on Monday was designed to promote the Trump Administration’s ideas for peace talks between the Afghani government and the Taliban. He stressed that any peace talks would be “Afghan led and Afghan owned” but that the US would participate in the discussions. There is one large hiccup in the plan: jihadists don’t want peace, they want conquest.
“The region and the world are all tired of what are taking place here in the same way that the Afghan people are no longer interested in seeing war.” Mike Pompeo
The problem is that the “region and the world” may be tired of it, but are the Taliban tired enough of it to seek peace? And what about the other jihadi groups in Afghanistan and nearby Pakistan that conduct nearly daily attacks?
TheMarine Corps Times reported,
“Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had extended a recent holiday cease-fire in hopes of encouraging the militants to come to the bargaining table, but the Taliban rejected the offer and resumed attacks. The Taliban have seized control of several districts across the country in recent years, and launch near-daily attacks, mainly targeting security forces. An increasingly powerful Islamic State affiliate has also stepped up attacks in recent months.”
ISIS-K (Khorasan), the Haqqani network, Terik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Taliban, and numerous others have footholds in various parts of Afghanistan. These are not “normal” people who just want to get along with their neighbors. They are focused on conquest. Conquest to subdue those who do not follow what they believe.
Nangarhar Province has been a hotbed of jihadist activity for years. Helmand Province has poppy fields for opium production…why would they easily give up the money from those?
Nobody appreciates a never-ending 17 year war. It has killed and maimed our military service members, as well as those of both our allies and the Afghani people. It has drained our resources and budgets. We hate it and we’d like it stopped. But that one thing, that jihadi belief system stands in the way.
Afghanistan’s President, Ashraf Ghani, has praised the Trump Administration’s South Asia policy of sending more forces and attempting to push Pakistan into doing more against the jihadists. But the problem is still the focus on conquering their enemies rather than living with them. And THAT is what will make or break any peace talks.