New York, December 5, 2019
Let us have a beginning to a real peace process in Afghanistan. For this to be possible, it is necessary that negotiations be resolutely widened beyond the essential step of withdrawal or draw down of American troops. It must involve all key parties in the conflict, begin with an immediate ceasefire and then move forward to build conditions for a lasting peace.
The international Al Qaeda leaders and operatives who ensconced themselves in remote and fractured Afghanistan unleashed a torrent of violence that affected innocent civilians in Afghanistan as well as in the United States and elsewhere, and they spun a tangled skein of violence stretching around the world. The U.S. and NATO war in Afghanistan has in turn taken a devastating toll on the people of Afghanistan and added thousands of casualties for America and its allies. We are all implicated in a shared and complex crisis.
We now face a continuing war in Afghanistan resulting in more death and injury to civilians in armed conflict than anywhere on earth, continued losses of Afghan and American troops, and an unstable ground within Afghanistan that provides haven for Al Qaeda, ISIS and more than a dozen additional armed groups. There continues to be no military solution that offers peace and security within or beyond the boundaries of Afghanistan.
An immediate ceasefire is necessary to open substantive negotiations for peace in Afghanistan and to achieve the complete and safe withdrawal of American and allied NATO troops. This is essential to prevent intensified military operations and escalating casualties. It is the most urgent demand we hear voiced by Afghan civilians.
The next pressing priority is to ensure that all the parties relevant to a successful peace process are parties in the process — regardless of other parties’ objections — as it will otherwise stand little prospect of success. Beyond the core armed participants (the United States, the Afghan government and the Taliban), this requires meaningful inclusion of those with the most personal stake – Afghan women, youth and civil society.
These traditionally excluded groups must be actively engaged. It is they upon whom a viable and lasting peace will depend and who will be most committed to the hard work of building a just, secure and peaceful future from the ashes of war.
To end such a lengthy and violent war requires multiple commitments. In addition to internal post-conflict measures, the international community must provide substantial assistance to repair damage, build social institutions capable of sustaining peaceful governance and provide routes for economic activity into which demobilized fighters can be constructively and safely reintegrated.
We live in an inescapably interconnected world. Post-conflict work is critical to keep the peace for all of us. Neighboring countries and economic partners must contribute to restoring safe borders, regional security and prosperity. The U.S. and its NATO allies must play a major role turning the savings of troop withdrawal into a peace dividend contributing to just security in ways that war cannot.
This road is not a short one, and it will not be easy or cost-free. Compared with the losses and dangers of war, it is the right thing to do. It is the only way forward that will bring us true security and solace.
Afghanistan Committee, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows is an organization founded by family members of those killed on September 11, 2001. Currently comprised of over 200 families, the group advocates nonviolence and adherence to the rule of law in the pursuit of justice and accountability