The significance of this conference is that in post-Osama bin Laden Afghanistan; the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of the Taliban that the APRP aims to achieve will now have a stronger message for what it represents for the future of peace in the country. The APRP was initiated by the consultative Peace Jirga in July 2010, and its main objective is to create reintegration opportunities for those Taliban members if and when they decide to stop fighting and return home. However, as pointed out in my Afghanistan article in one of the previous issues of Political Reflection, the APRP is based on a number of major assumptions such as the willingness of the Taliban to stop fighting in return of an amnesty and financial reintegration benefits. The argument used by the international community to explain why it is possible to attract some elements of the Taliban in such a reintegration process is to some extent, quite sound. It is argued that within the Taliban there are a number of sub-groups such as those ‘ideological’, ‘opportunistic’, ‘criminal’, ‘poor’ and ‘vulnerable’ Taliban. For the APRP, the approach to the ideological group which is formed by the Taliban high command and those combatants fighting for jihad and other identity related issues, will be centred on political negotiations and grievance resolution, while the APRP considers the livelihoods generation type programmes as its main approach for the other Taliban sub-groups. It is expected that even political negotiations may take a while to settle and complete, in the short-to-medium term there would be a real chance to convince other Taliban groups to give up their weapons for financial incentives. The APRP also argues that most of the Taliban members are actually home based and their participation into fighting is almost like seasonal employment. Therefore, the tangible peace dividends would likely to be a significant enticement for them. In fact, regardless of whether they are home-based or not or they would need a political approach rather than a more humanitarian and development based assistance, the death of Osama bin Laden may still have a significant impact on all of these possibilities, as it is expected that the relationship between al-Qaeda and the Taliban is likely to change and possibly weaken in coming days.
*Published in Political Reflection Magazine (PR) Vol. 2 | No. 2
** Alpaslan Özerdem is Professor of Peacebuilding at Coventry University.