The Failure to Bring Peace

The Failure to Bring Peace

The accords did not bring peace to Afghanistan. There was little expectationamong its enemies or the Soviet Union that the Kabul government would survive.Its refusal to collapse introduced a three-year period of civil war.

The Geneva process failed to prevent the further carnage which a politicalsolution among Afghans might have prevented or lessened. It failed partiallybecause the Geneva process prevented participation by the Afghan resistance. TheDRA occupied Afghanistan's seat at the UN General Assembly. Denied recognition,the resistance leadership resented the central role that DRA was permitted toplay at Geneva. When Cordovez approached the Mujahidin parties to discuss apossible political settlement in February 1988--more than five years afternegotiations began--they were not interested. Their bitterness would hover oversubsequent efforts to find a political solution.

Considerable diplomatic energy was expended throughout 1987 to find apolitical compromise that would end the fighting before the Soviets left. WhilePakistan, the Soviet Union and the DRA haggled over a timetable for the Sovietwithdrawal, Cordovez worked on a formula for an Afghan government that wouldreconcile the combatants. The formula involved Zahir Shah, and by extension, theleading members of his former government, most of whom had gone into exile. Thisapproach also called for a meeting in the Loya Jirgah tradition representing allAfghan protagonists and communities. It was to reach a consensus on the featuresof a future government. The Jirgah also was to select a small group of respectedleaders to act as a transitional government in place of the Kabul government andthe mujahidin. During the transition a new constitution was to be promulgatedand elections conducted leading to the installation of a popularly acceptedgovernment. This package kept reemerging in modified forms throughout the civilwar that followed. Suggested roles for the king and his followers slipped intoand out of these formulas, despite the implacable opposition of most of themujahidin leaders.

The peace prospect faltered because no credible consensus was attainable. Bymid-1987 the resistance forces sensed a military victory. They had stymied whatproved to be the last set of major Soviet offensives, the Stinger missiles werestill having a devastating effect, and they were receiving an unprecedentedsurge of outside assistance. Defeat of the Kabul government was their solutionfor peace. This confidence, sharpened by their distrust of the UN virtuallyguaranteed their refusal of a political compromise.

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