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A man walks along with women on a hillside overlooking Kabul on February 22, 2020. - A week-long partial truce took hold across Afghanistan on February 22, with some jubilant civilians dancing in the streets as the war-weary country woke up to what is potentially a major turning point in its long conflict. (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP)
A man walks along with women on a hillside overlooking Kabul on February 22, 2020. - A week-long partial truce took hold across Afghanistan on February 22, with some jubilant civilians dancing in the streets as the war-weary country woke up to what is potentially a major turning point in its long conflict. (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP)

AFGHANS want Feb 29 to be today. We can understand why. On that day, God willing, peace will come if a deal is struck between the Taliban and the United States.

Many who live in peace elsewhere may not understand such Afghan hastening.

One Afghan told news agency AFP what he would do if peace does come on Saturday: “I want to go to Nuristan (northeast province), run, laugh, sing, dance, whistle and eat yogurt. I want to touch its green hills, crazy rivers and blue sky. I want to climb its trees, and know its pigeons”.

This is the poetry of life the young and old have been missing for more than 18 years since the war started. There have been other wars earlier.

The United Nations says the war in Afghanistan has killed or injured more than 100,000 civilians in the past 10 years.

This is a terrible tragedy. Behind every such tragedy, there are the usual suspects: the US, Russia, Britain, and France.

The US must seize this opportunity to put an end to what has been one unending war. The Americans must remember this: the Afghans didn’t start the war, they did.

What the Afghans want is to be free of foreign domination and interference. Suppression of one people by another is the cause of many miseries around the world. Having ended it, the US must leave the political process of building a government to the Afghans.

The US should have no role in it. Afghanistan’s sovereignty must be respected. The US must learn from its past mistakes. Its puppet regimes installed in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere have all collapsed.

There is a simple reason for this abject failure. One country can’t govern another by proxy. The days of empire building are long gone.

And the Afghan war has been bad for America, too. Writing in an op-ed piece in The New York Times, retired General Joseph Votel, who was the commander of US Central Command from March 2016 to March 2019, put it thus: “The war has exacted an overwhelming cost: 1,892 American military personnel killed in action and 20,589 wounded, about a trillion dollars spent, the psychological and emotional impact on veterans and their families.” Wars do no one any good.

The combatants in Syria and Yemen should make a similar attempt at peace. Come next month, the war in Syria will be nine years of deaths and tragedies.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, more than 500,000 were killed in the civil war up to March 2018. Close to six million Syrians have fled the country while another 6.6 million are displaced internally. Peace efforts are at a standstill.

Syria, Russia, Iran, the US and Turkey must seek a quick way out. Oscillation of the combatants between war and peace will only cost more lives and limbs.

Not to mention the economic cost to the country which is estimated to be more than US$400 billion. Yemen too needs peace badly.

The civil war there has claimed more than 100,000 lives according to one report. Foreign intervention again is the cause.

This must end. Like the Afghans, the Syrians and Yemenis want to run, laugh, sing, dance, whistle and eat yogurt.

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