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    On the last day of a much welcomed three-day ceasefire in celebration of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the Taliban announced that they will return to the mountains to resume fighting government forces, despite President Ashraf Ghani extending the government’s own ceasefire with the militants for another ten days.

    Sputnik spoke to Afghan journalist, Ali Latifi, to find out if the unprecedented ceasefire could form the backbone of future peace talks.

    Sputnik: There’s a lot of talk about the scenes of Taliban fighters and Afghan soldiers hugging one another and taking selfies together amidst the festivities. The Taliban have now pointed to this as a symbol not only of support, but also as evidence that Afghanistan is not as tribally divided as the US says that it is – is there truth to that?

    Ali Latifi: I don’t know if it’s necessarily about people supporting the Taliban, I think that it’s more about, and this is something that we’ve seen since before the occupation, where families are divided along these lines, and you have brothers and cousins and siblings where in one family you find members who support the opposition group and those that support the government.

    If anything, the people hugging and taking pictures with the Taliban has more to do, not so much with supporting the Taliban, but more to do with their supporting of this idea of peace and a ceasefire, and just the sheer joy of seeing the impossible and hoping that it would lead to an actual peace for once. So I don’t think it’s necessarily having to do with support for the Taliban, more for what that moment means more than anything.

    Sputnik: Some are suggesting that this example of a relatively peaceful ceasefire between Kabul and the Taliban could act as the basis for future peace talks, is that a realistic idea?

    Ali Latifi: There’s definitely a potential because this is something that no one ever expected. The communists couldn’t do this, the Mujahideen government couldn’t do this, no other government could do this, Hamid Karzai’s government couldn’t do this, in 40 years this is the first time we’ve had an actual ceasefire and when it was announced most people just thought it’d be something symbolic, no one expected that 30,000 Taliban would come into the cities and provinces of the country.

    As far as it leading to actual peace and negotiations, you know this is not a war that’s fully dependent on us and our reactions. Iran supports the Taliban, Pakistan supports the Taliban, the US and the West have their interests here, financially, militarily and politically.

    So it’s not quite as simple as that. If anything what this ceasefire and the last three days show, is that if it was up to us, and if all of these other actors both regionally and globally weren’t involved, there may have been a chance of some kind of settlement at some point.

    Sputnik: We saw a pretty large Da’esh attack on Saturday against local and Taliban officials in Nangarhar province, is it possible we could see the latter two tacitly join forces to expel their common enemy, Da’esh, who of course weren’t covered by this recent ceasefire?

    Ali Latifi: They already in many ways have been doing things like that. The other thing is that this is sort of the state of the law in the country right now in the sense that the Taliban and the government have a mutual enemy now in groups claiming to be Da’esh.

    So that could also affect the Taliban’s position to get closer to this idea of peace because they realise that they are not the only player in the game anymore. So yes, obviously if the Taliban end up joining with the government, and there are peace talks, then of course they will end up fighting alongside the government, and the government has always welcomed this.

    We’ve seen this in the past where the warlords from the civil war time, they came after the Soviet occupation and after their government, joined to fight against the Taliban and they have been joining in the fight against the Taliban now. So it’s quite possible and our recent history has proven it.

    The views and opinions expressed by Ali Latifi are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the position of Sputnik.

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    actors, foreign, peace, ceasefire, government, Taliban, Ali Latifi, Afghanistan
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