The traditional grand council of more than 2,000 Afghan leaders and elders meeting in Kabul this week is the latest in a series of efforts to revive the political and diplomatic efforts aimed at advancing peace and stability in Afghanistan. But these steps are unlikely to produce tangible results in the immediate future.
Here’s why. Resolving the multiple conflicts at the heart of the decades of war in Afghanistan and the broader region requires a better diplomatic and political game plan than the one currently in place. A conference in Istanbul earlier this month involving key regional neighbors of Afghanistan produced a document that was heavy on the verbiage and light on the implementation mechanisms. Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s loya jirga in Kabul this week appears to have little direct linkage to the regional diplomatic efforts in Istanbul and other international initiatives, even though all are designed to some extent to help build a peace process for Afghanistan.
Another international conference planned for next month in Bonn, Germany, is not likely to produce major steps forward either. Open meetings like these are the least likely arenas to address some of the thorniest issues at the core of the conflict, including the role played by neighbors such as Pakistan and Iran and the diplomatic strategy for dealing with a fractured yet alarmingly resilient and deadly Taliban movement. These meetings may establish some useful frameworks and broad understandings between key actors but the tough work on resolving conflicts like these necessarily takes place behind the scenes.
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