4. Middle East: Afghanistan's moment of peace
An all-too-brief Taliban ceasefire has ended in Afghanistan despite Kabul's request that it be extended, the Wilson Center's Michael Kugelman writes for Axios Expert Voices.
What's next: The insurgents are headed back to the battlefield. This is no surprise: As long the Taliban believes it's winning the war — and it very much does — it won't stop fighting on the government's terms.
However, the temporary truce has several silver linings for a nation badly in need of optimism:
- The fact that the Taliban stopped fighting for the first time, even if only for a few days, represents a major new building block.
- The ceasefire has strengthened a national consensus for peace. As their beaming faces in photos that went viral made clear, Afghan civilians, and, most surprisingly, Taliban foot soldiers, genuinely enjoyed their brief time together in peace.
- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will now have more political space and public support to push forward on reconciliation. And Taliban leaders now face the uncomfortable prospect of their rank and file growing increasingly uncomfortable about fighting.