Russia has invited top-level members of the Taliban to Moscow for peace talks that are expected to forge a peaceful progress for conflict-ridden Afghanistan. The landmark meeting is expected to take place in early September in what is viewed as a turning point for the Middle Eastern country. According to the Russian, who will play hosts and mediators, there has been the positive reception of the invites from both the Taliban and Afghani authorities the first steps in a rather long journey of restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Moscow has invited delegates from 11 countries, including regional heavyweights China, Iran, and Pakistan, which border Afghanistan, to attend the Sept. 4 talks in the Russian capital. If the Taliban does come, it would mark its first attendance at such an event. The radical Islamist movement rejected an offer to attend a similar meeting in Moscow last year, as did Washington.
Skepticism surrounds the meeting with some global players like the US saying that the initiative is unlikely to yield any progress toward a peace settlement in Afghanistan. Washington believes that a lasting solution and end to the over 17-year war ought to be Afghan-owned and led to warrant a lasting solution.
A brief cease-fire in June between the Taliban and U.S.-supported Afghan armed forces injected a dose of rare optimism into the weary populace of Afghanistan, where a homegrown peace activist movement has strengthened in recent months. Therefore, the optimism could be steering the talks as all parties involved hope for a fruitful meeting in Moscow and the genesis of a peace restoration and national healing after close to two decades of war.
Moscow has long maintained that instability in Afghanistan, which bordered the Soviet Union and is still seen by Russia as well within its sphere of influence, poses a threat at home. A Russian diplomat maintained that engaging with the Taliban was necessary “in order to ensure the security of Russian citizens and also to encourage Taliban members to forgo the armed struggle and join the nationwide dialogue with the government.
While Russia appears to be approaching the talks to defend her territory and citizens, it is believed the need to hasted the talks with Taliban was to eliminate the threat caused by one radical group as fears of an ISIS presence in Central Asia heightens. Those fears were realized last month when four cyclists, including two Americans, were killed in Tajikistan in an attack claimed by the Islamic State. It was the extremist group’s first deadly assault in Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by the Muslim-majority countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan — former Soviet republics with which Russia maintains close ties.