Small Wars Journal

COVID-19 Presents Additional Obstacle to Afghan Peace Process

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 6:25am

COVID-19 Presents Additional Obstacle to Afghan Peace Process by John Grady – USNI News

The Taliban has shown no interest in cooperating with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to combat the COVID-19 pandemic spreading from Iran, creating the latest obstacle to peace, four regional experts said Monday.

The experts, speaking via ZOOM from around the globe, were part of a Woodrow Wilson Center Webcast: What’s Next for the Peace and Reconciliation Process in Afghanistan? A month after the U.S. and Taliban signed a troop withdrawal agreement, negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban were to be working toward ending the 19-year conflict.

“There’s been no reduction in violence” in the countryside where the Taliban continues to attack Afghan national security forces, said Sami Mahdi, bureau chief of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty Afghanistan Service, speaking via ZOOM from Kabul. So far, he added, Taliban forces have carefully avoiding striking American service members, part of a pact it reached with the United States earlier.

At the same time, the spread of COVID-19, especially along Afghanistan’s western border with Iran, is further destabilizing the peace effort. In Herat Province, “thousands of Afghans are returning from Iran” to escape the outbreak, Mahdi said. Their arrival puts more stress on a woefully inadequate health care system…

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