Friday, June 10

"Punches exchanged during television debate on Hekmatyar peace deal"

Afghanistan's Khaama Press has the report on the altercation yesterday, which went viral. Excerpt:
According to the trailer of the debate, which is due to [be televised] later tonight on 1TV channel, the brawl erupts as one of the debate participants calls a peace deal with Hezb-e-Islami as ineffective, calling Hekmatyar a terrorist who is still internationally blacklisted.
The remarks by the debate participant angers the other participant who speaks in favor of Hekmatyar, calling Hezb-e-Islami a key party which has a major influence in the country.
Well all I can say is it's a good thing Marvin Weinbaum wasn't at the debate.

By Marvin G. Weinbaum
June 8, 2016
The National Interest
The Kabul government seems headed toward an agreement with the militant wing of Hezb-i-Islami (HIG), a group that for the last fifteen years has been at war with the Afghan state. A draft accord reached with HIG chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has been touted by the Afghan government as the first step in a political process that could eventually draw in core elements of the Taliban.
The tentative peace pact, which comes after two months of negotiations, follows persistent attempts by the government and American, Pakistani and Chinese representatives to restart last year’s collapsed talks held with a Mullah Mansour–led Taliban leadership.
Now Kabul and Washington are expressing hope that the recent dramatic change at the Taliban’s helm, coupled with a HIG agreement, will create the momentum needed to revive a broader peace dialogue. But an examination of the terms and the motives behind this pending deal with HIG suggests reason for concern not optimism.

Thus begins Weinbaum's troubling discussion about the agreement. He notes simply that Hekmatyar can't be trusted. I note simply that Kabul is planning on giving away the store, and may even accede to Hekmatyar's demand that all foreign forces quit Afghanistan. What, pray tell, does he want in return for his many demands being met?
With his return, Hekmatyar poses from within a far greater danger to Afghanistan as a pro-Western, liberal state than he ever had from outside the political system. With his past deviousness so well known, why does the government seem so comfortable with having this agreement?

Among other reasons, Ghani may see political advantage in Hekmatyar’s return by playing him off against a cabal of former mujahideen chiefs grown impatient with his presidency. But the simplest explanation is that of a Kabul government wanting something to show for its years of failed efforts to find a political way out of a worsening conflict.

Similarly, the United States, in its praise of an agreement with a group on its official list of terrorist organizations, is pleased to salvage anything from its own empty-handed search for Taliban leaders willing to negotiate. Lost to those encouraged by an agreement with HIG is the high probability that, by opening the Afghan political landscape to the machinations of a legitimized old warlord and veteran terrorist, an already contentious Afghan political scene will become even more volatile.
Marvin G. Weinbaum is the director of the Middle East Institute’s Center for Pakistan Studies and a former intelligence analyst for Pakistan and Afghanistan in the U.S. Department of State.

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