Afghanistan’s Peace Deal with Violent Warlord
On Thursday morning, a peace deal was negotiated between the Afghan government and an insurgent faction led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. US officials are hoping that the peace deal will help bring the conflict in Afghanistan to a peaceful end. However, others have criticized the accord, saying that a peace deal with a war lord will create a “culture of impunity.”
According to the recently signed peace deal, the insurgent group is supposed to lay down their arms while the Afghan government will grant full political rights to Hekmatyar’s organization, the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin party. As long as both groups, the Afghan government and Hekmatyar, follow through on their end of the bargain, implementation of the peace deal should go smoothly. However, there is a possibility that one of the parties to the deal, particularly Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, will eventually break the peace deal.
It is very possible that if Gulbuddin Hekmatyar beleives that the Afghan government is having to close of a relationship with the US that he will break the peace deal. In fact, after his organization was expelled from Iran, he accused the Iranian government of supporting the US and then Hekmatayar started supporting al-Qaeda. However, a party backing out is always a risk you take when signing accords. There’s always the risk that one party will break the deal. However, after examining Hekmatyar’s history it would be reasonable to come to the conclusion that a peace deal with Hekmatyar will be one of the riskier and less reliable accords.
Critics of the peace deal also make a good point when they say that the accord could lead to a “culture of impunity.” Hekmatayar and the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin party have a very violent past. Historically, Hekmatayar has promoted much more sectarian conflict than other organizations. People have even accused Hekmatayar of spending “more time fighting other Mujahideen than killing Soviets.” If the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin party gains popular support in Afghanistan, then the Afghan government may have to handle increased ethnic tensions or increased sectarian violence.
Overall, this peace deal is incredibly risky. The peace deal not only carries the risk of Hekmatayar backing out and resuming violence, it also carries the risk of creating future ethnic tensions in Afghanistan. Hekmatayar and the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin party’s violent past also gives rise to the question: can an organization or person with such a violence past suddenly change? Only time will tell.