Saturday, June 9, 2012



Published Feb 01, 2010 at Associated Content

The London Conference:  Loya Jirga, Temporary Amnesty and Cease-Fire

By James C. L'Angelle

LONDON--Now that key political events have played out, such as the State of the Union speech and the re-appointment of Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman, attention can be turned to probably the most important single event this year thus far in politics, the Afghan summit in the United Kingdom. Seventy delegates from around the world are meeting in London to search for an alternative solution to make peace with the Taliban by providing them with positions in the new government. Absent of course at the meetings are Taliban leaders since most of them have prices on their heads; in fact, the rewards posted for their arrests are sticking points in any reconciliation deal.
Billed as "Afghanistan:The London Conference", the participant list is impressive, all of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are present; China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Those non-permanent members of the UN Security Council who are not listed on the participant manifest include Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, and Uganda. In other words, out of the possible non-permanent members, six out of ten are not in attendance. Israel and Germany are not on the manifest. China currently holds the presidency of the UN Security Council and is in attendance at the London Conference. There is no report as to how the delegates were selected or whether there was a blanket invitation sent out to all of the charter members of the United Nations. All of the NATO member countries are in attendance except Germany, at least according to the participant list.

Cornerstone of the meeting is the reconciliation of the Taliban into the new Afghan government with a monetary proposal set at $500 million over the next five years, identified as "The Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund", It has restrictions imposed requiring Taliban fighters to retire their weapons and respect the rights of women. In addition, a "loya jirga", or high-council meeting has been proposed for April in which Taliban leaders are invited.

One can only speculate as to what type of security would be required to allow Taliban outlaws with prices on their heads to be allowed a special temporary amnesty to attend such a meeting, more than likely in Kabul, and perhaps a bonafide "cease fire" called in order to facilitate the high-council.
General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of ISAF forces in Afghanistan, in a BBC interview, has recently come out and stated that the Taliban has "no influence" in Afghanistan. Whether this is true or not is a relative moot point right now since the objective here is to find a solution for a war that has been drawn out since 2001, and the General has recently admitted there may not be a military solution to it. The answer to finding a negotiated peace might well be to give Taliban leadership some influence in the government rather than none; in much the same way Iraqi insurgency was brought into the fold as that country's hostilities wound down.

One can only hope for the sake of all of the soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan that a peace settlement of any type, even a cease-fire, would be more than one can hope for out of this conference. At least the door is open for international participation in the future of Afghanistan off the battlefield.