The long-awaited withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan has started, but the presumed peace in the mountain kingdom is now seemingly farther than ever. The Taliban have started its nefarious lightning offenses across the country. The pace at which the Taliban is expanding its territories is concerning the world, especially, when still a considerable number of American troops are yet to be repatriated to the US.

What does the Taliban’s regain of power means for Afghanistan? How is it affecting geopolitics? And is peace possible between the Afghan government and the Taliban?

Afghanistan Without US Troops

Taliban have been fighting the Afghan government and its allies for over 2 decades. Now with the Americans leaving the country in hands of the country’s security forces, the Taliban have once again started dominating major areas of the nation. The lack of high-tech machinery and war weapons is proving to be a greater threat for the Afghan’s security force than the withdrawal of the US troops.

The insurgency is fighting a long war with international occupation and the country’s government to control Afghanistan. Taliban’s lightning-fast control in more and more territories of Afghanistan is raising alarm for the neighboring countries from China to Russia. China’s foreign minister Wang Yi blames the US for the chaos in Afghanistan and said, “Washington must honor its commitments to prevent Afghanistan becoming once again a haven for terrorism.”

While the condition in Afghanistan has gone from bad to worse, the implication of the chaos is reaching far beyond the six-countries-bordering Afganistan’s borders. The car bomb in Quetta, targeting Chinses ambassadors visiting Pakistan is marking the beginning of the contagion.

What Does The Taliban Want?

With full power over Afghanistan, the Taliban wants to run the country under an Islamic government. After ceasing the capital Kabul in 1996, the Taliban declared Afghanistan an Islamic emirate, imposing very strict, and often brutal Islamic laws. Education, women’s rights, and numerous human rights were violated under the Taliban regime. The American invasion into Afghanistan after 9/11 wiped the Taliban out of power, and a new interim government was established.

Today, the Taliban is stronger than ever before, with over 85,000 fighters and training camps throughout Afghanistan. In just a short span of one month, they have succeeded in capturing more than two dozen districts, and are now aiming for the communication and IT centers, and main borders. Many young men and women are already fleeing Afghanistan before the dawn of the Taliban’s control over the country.

Afghanistan
Source: AFP Map

As the violence is surging in the war-torn country, the neighboring countries are witnessing a refugee crisis. Pakistan currently homes about 1.4 million Afghan refugees, whereas Iran has over a million, UN Refugee Agency. But, a series of peace talks between the two rivalries in Istanbul, Qatar, and other parts of the world is giving new hopes that both parties may come to a power-sharing negotiation without much bloodshed.

Afghanistan Peace Negotiation: The Talk

On the first day of the talks between Afghan government officials and Taliban representatives, several issues were addressed, including the release of prisoners, delisting from the United Nations’ list, discussions about amendments to the constitution, and the political roadmap toward a peaceful Afghanistan.

The Taliban have made clear that they want to speak about a ceasefire across Afghanistan only after they have seen a government that represents all segments of Afghan society. In spite of the fact that no specific timeline was given for achieving this goal, the Taliban have stated that they are open and willing to listen to what the high-power delegation is bringing to the table.

But despite the initiation of the peace talks, the gound condition in Aghanisation has been deteriorating. Though the Taliban’s gains have repeatedly been brushed aside as having little strategic value by Kabul, the seizure of numerous border crossings and mineral-rich regions will likely help fill the group’s coffers with a slew of new revenue streams.

Future of Afghanistan’s Peace Process

There is no way through force to the Afghan problem, the only way ahead is through negotiations. Experts say that the collapse of the Afghan government, in the next few months is inevitable, unless the international community provides a concrete plan to restore order in the war-torn country. As part of the UN Peacekeeping Force or in another coalition force stationed in Afghanistan, they are able to put a check on the Taliban’s aggressive ambitions and its ancillary groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

The world is waiting to see how these various combinations and permutations play out in the coming days. President Biden and President Trump claim to have ended the never-ending conflict. Perhaps that is the case for US troops. However, a new war may be just beginning in Afghanistan. This time, the brothers might be at odds.