The Kabul Times

Afghans expect four-party talks help uproot terror

Four-party talks ofAfghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the US on Afghan peace process to be held today in Abdu Dhabi. The meeting is aimed to seek practical ways for peace and stability as well as to bolster cooperation and counterterrorism efforts.
The Afghan delegation led by National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar to attend the meeting. The previous meeting of the four countries was held in March in United States.
The 17-year old Afghan war is entering a new phase, as the Afghan government and US using as allies the two Gulf Arab states that used to be the Taliban regime’s friend in the 1990s – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to mediate in Afghan peace process.
A conference of the ulema (religious scholars) drawn from 30 Muslim countries was held in the holy cities of Makkah and Medina on July 9-10. The host was notionally the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).The meetingissued a fatwa effectively de-legitimizing the Taliban’s ‘jihad’, sowing seeds of ideological disarray amongst the insurgents and encouraging defection from their ranks.
No doubt, Afghan government and its allies hope to have the two Gulf Arab regimes convince Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Although the kinship between the Saudi regime and Pakistani ulema is deep-rooted, there was only scant representation from Pakistan at the conference in Saudi Arabia.
Since the past several decades, Kabul has always looked at Islamabad and Riyadhto resolve the Afghan case. That is why first former president Karzai and now President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani demanded Saudi’s cooperation to end the war in Afghanistan.
In a meeting with the members of Afghanistan Ulema Council and High Peace Council (HPC) here yesterday, President Ghanicalled Saudi Arabia a strategic partner of Afghanistan in the peace process, asking the gulf country to cooperate with Afghanistan in implementation and ensuring peace.
Now there is a good opportunity for Saudi Arabia and Emirates to mediate between the Afghan government and the Taliban by using its spiritual and religious credibility because both the Afghan government and the Taliban trust Gulf countries and their soft power can have positive effects. In addition, compared to Obama’s administration, Trump has better relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE which can have a positive role in the Afghan peace process.
Although the UAE has so far not taken any bold stepfor restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan, but most Afghans believe that due to its influence on Pakistan, UAE can force Pakistan to cooperate for restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan and encourage Taliban to attend the peace talks.
Afghans eyeing the four-party talks in UAE toseek regional cooperation for uprooting of terrorism and don’t let the region to be victimized by terror and the insurgent groups. Sans regional and global cooperation, elimination of terrorism is impossible as the Afghan government and the US repeatedlycalled on the world including,Gulf states to take decisive measures on uprooting terror and stop funding and extending support to the militants.

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