Sinn Féin has a chance to form the next government of the Republic of Ireland after besting the 2 traditional government-forming parties in the just concluded general election. But it wasn’t always a party known for democratic participation.
Once upon a time there was religious war in Northern Ireland between Catholic Sinn Féin, its military wing the Irish Republican Army, IRA and Protestant militias.
Then came Tony Blair’s 1999 peace agreement that ended decades of violent struggle between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
Today, Sinn Féin, which started as the political wing of the feared IRA, whose bombings killed Queen Elizabeth’s in-law Lord Mountbatten, which was declared a terrorist organisation by several governments is the largest political party in the Republic of Ireland. It is seriously negotiating to form the next government.
This coup comes after Sinn Féin’s participation in the Northern Irish Government, following the 1999 peace agreement.
Today, the Taliban has made peace with the US after 18 years of fighting. The US is preparing to remove several sanctions it imposed against the Taliban at the height of President George W Bush’s War on Terror.
The Taliban is also preparing to talk peace with the current Afghan Government, which it once referred to as American puppets.
Will we have a new era of peace in Afghanistan like we have had in the Irish Isles?
That depends a lot on the Taliban. Do they still feel they were robbed of power? (Before the US invasion the Taliban formed the government of Afghanistan after beating off rivals in a fierce military conflict.)
Or are they ready to compromise with the new folks who have been ruling through elections since the US invasion?
If the Taliban choses to seize back power, there is little hope that the US under President Trump will send in troops to support its allies.
Trump has never hidden his desire to see the US get out of stationing troops in other parts of the world, be it Syria or Afghanistan.
So, the current Afghan Government has to find a way to convince the Taliban to forget that it was once pushed out of power and embrace new democratic struggle for power instead.
To be clear, Taliban will be a major power broker if they choose to participate in the new democracy rather than bring back old questions.
Read more on the US-Taliban peace deal here.