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How will the Kabul raid affect a peace deal? [VIDEO]

Neither Afghan nor American observers expect the Kabul attack on the InterContinental Hotel to shut down the peace process.

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“I hope politicians are not too influenced by this [attack] and [do not] drop the political approach,” says Thomas Ruttig with the Afghanistan Analysts Network in Kabul. “The attack yesterday showed that the Taliban cannot be gotten rid of through a military-only approach.”

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What about a cease-fire?

In order to avoid the danger of each side outraging the other with stepped-up attacks, one solution is to seek some form of cease-fire to give space for talks.

A cease-fire would also help stop further fragmentation of the insurgency, which adds uncertainty to whether a peace deal could be enforced by Taliban leaders. As the US steps up attacks on mid-level commanders, fresh leaders are elevated who are not as bonded to the top-level leaders.

“When you continue to hammer the organization, that means you have more factionalization,” says Christine Fair, a regional expert at Georgetown University in Washington. “It does mean you are increasing your odds of having significant spoilers [to any settlement].”

Western analysts who follow the region, including Dr. Fair, Mr. Ruttig, and Seth Jones at the RAND Corporation, say they have never heard serious discussion about pursuing a cease-fire deal.

Mr. Lodin says everyone on the High Peace Council is suggesting a cease-fire, but he does not expect it to happen soon. The Taliban, meanwhile, have demanded that foreign soldiers depart Afghanistan – which is a lopsided form of cease-fire – but the US has made it clear that withdrawal would be an outcome not a precondition or intermediate step.

The Taliban spokesman Mr. Mujahid declined to say much about the attack’s impact on peace talks.

“I do not want to comment on this since I did not get the official statement from the leadership, but I would say that the fight is going on on a daily basis, the enemy attacks us everywhere and the goal of freedom that we have, we can not forget that goal,” says Mujahid by phone.

Fair argues that the InterContinental was not really meant as a Western target since mostly Afghans these days actually stay overnight in the past-its-prime hotel. She sees this as a message to Afghans that while the internationals are starting to leave, the Afghan conflict remains.

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