A Taliban-declared ceasefire will commence today in Afghanistan for the duration of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday.
The government in Kabul will likely accept the Taliban’s proposition, hoping to facilitate relative peace during one of Islam’s holiest holidays. The Taliban’s current temporary olive branch comes in the immediate aftermath of an attack in Kabul that led to over 80 deaths.
Expect a surge in violence throughout Afghanistan as the US and its NATO allies withdraw forces. Emboldened by Washington’s decision to leave Afghanistan after nearly 20 years of engagement, the Taliban will likely seek to expand its zone of influence in the north and south of the country.
In the longer-term, the structural weakness of the Afghan military poses the risk that the latter may attempt to topple the government following American withdrawal. Thus, expect the US to enhance diplomatic efforts to reach a peace settlement in the short-term. For starters, expect the US to push for a new peace conference after the Taliban skipped the planned April Istanbul summit. Washington may find it difficult, however, to achieve any substantial breakthroughs. The unconditional American pull-out and the Afghani government’s weakness presents the Taliban with little incentive to undertake genuine efforts towards a long-term solution.
Sinan is an analyst for the Current Developments Team and a regular contributor to the Daily Brief. A student of transatlantic affairs, he specialises in political, economic and energy affairs of Europe and the Middle East.