Abbas Daiyar, who writes the excellent Kabul Perspective blog, has written an excellent piece on the prospects for Bonn Conference 2, due to be held in December. His posting, The Dark Clouds, notes that Germany, as host, is trying to ensure a Taliban presence at the conference and that the US and the Taliban are now reportedly in direct contact. He says Pakistan is also saying it can guarantee the presence of the Haqqani network and that things look like they are shaping up for an announcement of a political settlement to hostilities in Afghanistan.
Daiyar says talk of a Karzai-mediated settlement is anathema to many of the warlords, such as General Dostum, Ismail Khan, Ata Mohammad Noor, Ahmad Zia Masoud and others, who appear to be in the process of creating a grand alliance to ensure they have a voice at the conference and negotiations. None of them trust Karzai or believe that he represents them. As Daiyar says: "Before the Taliban come to an agreement with the international community, it's important that they should come to an understanding with Afghans who resisted them for years; otherwise it's no solution to the conflict. The international troops have already announced withdrawal by 2014. They are not the problem for Taliban; rather the bigger challenges are internal in Afghanistan. The ineffective Peace Council should also bear in mind that it's not only the international community having problems with Taliban, but more serious problems with Taliban are from inside Afghanistan."
Daiyar wants conference organisers to make sure all factions of Afghan society, including women, are represented and that Afghans should be able to discuss the "fault lines" of the current system.
Thomas Ruttig of the Afghan Analysts Network has also been writing on similar themes. As he notes:
"They do not need a Karzai-Taleban deal that opens the exit door for foreign troops, they need an end of the bloodshed that will also physically reopen spaces for economic and political(!) activities, a debate about where their country is going. A deal which does not address main causes of the conflict (namely the monopoly over power of resources concentrated in the hands of a small elite, then possibly with some additional Taleban players) will not bring peace. Therefore, the ‘political process’ (the euphemism for talking to the Taleban in the programme of the Bonn conference) needs to involve a representative cross-section of Afghan society, including former anti-Taleban mujahedin, the ethnic minorities that have suffered most under the Taleban yoke and what usually is called civil society, including the women constituency, another main victim of past Taleban rule." Wise words.