Today, Taliban representatives and Afghan politicians will gather in Moscow for two days of peace talks.
Last week, the US and Taliban agreed to a preliminary framework for a peace deal. Today’s talks in Russia will not advance Washington’s attempt to forge peace with a foe it has battled for 17 years.
For one, the talks exclude US-backed President Ghani and include his main rivals and critics. The Taliban has so far refused to engage with Ghani’s government, but last week’s framework establishes the conditions for those talks– notably, the withdrawal of US forces. However, Mr Ghani’s support has been critical to assuaging the concerns of the Afghan people, namely that more legitimacy for the Taliban would mean the return of strict Islamic laws.
Today’s talks also strengthen the Taliban’s hand. Last week’s framework already relies a great deal on the group’s good faith. If the Taliban is secure in the knowledge that it has support from Russia, it can more easily renege on its commitments once the US begins drawing down its 14,000 troops.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.