The Afghan government and the Taliban began historic peace talks in Doha on Saturday in the presence of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. These discussions promise to be arduous because of the deep differences between the two warlords.
Historic peace talks began on Saturday, September 12, in Qatar between the Afghan leadership and the Taliban. The government negotiator thanked them for their “willingness to negotiate” and opened the discussions. “I can tell you with confidence today that our country will remember this day as the day of the end of the war and the suffering of our people,” said Abdullah Abdullah, a former Afghan minister.
These talks had been delayed for six months due to deep disagreements over a controversial change of rebel government prisoner.
The talks come in the wake of the 19th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2011, which led to the international intervention led by the United States, which ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.
Both sides must find a way “to move the country forward to reduce violence and meet Afghan demands: a country reconciled with a government that reflects a nation that is not at war,” Mike said. Pompeo, Friday. The Secretary of State will participate in the opening of negotiations and is expected later, Saturday, in Cyprus.
US President Donald Trump, whose re-election in November is uncertain, is determined to end the longest war in US history at any cost.
But a speedy resolution of the conflict seems unlikely and the duration of the negotiations is not known.
Two visions of society
The Taliban reiterated its desire to establish a system in which the law would be dictated by a rigorous Islam and did not recognize the government in Kabul, described as a “puppet” in Washington.
President Ashraf Ghani’s government, for its part, insists on upholding the young republic and its constitution, which enshrined many rights, especially for religious minorities and women who would be the big losers for a return to the methods that were in force under the yoke. of the Taliban.
The issue of prisoner exchanges, provided for in a historic agreement between the Taliban and the United States that ended in February in Doha, had been a first obstacle to delaying negotiations. Undoubtedly, the Afghan authorities finally released the last 400 rebels and several countries, including France and Australia, protested against their release.
The US envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, justified the release on Friday from Doha, saying it was “a difficult but necessary Afghan decision (…) to open negotiations”.
“My beard was black when the war started”
The Afghan conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, including 2,400 US troops, forced millions more to flee and cost Washington more than a trillion dollars.
“My beard was black when the war started, it is now snow white, we are still at war (…) and I do not think it will change any time soon,” said Obaidullah, a 50-year-old Kabul resident. “I am skeptical of these negotiations because the two camps want to pursue their full agenda,” the retired official added.
Many Afghans fear that the Taliban, which hosted the jihadist al-Qaeda network before September 11, 2001., will return to power before September 11, 2001. However, the Taliban have been in power since signing the agreement with the United States. which stipulates that US troops be withdrawn and that this inter-Afghan dialogue be held.
Qatar has been quietly trying to mediate, complicated by the continuing violence in Afghanistan and the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Qatar’s chief negotiator Mutlaq al-Qahtani on Thursday emphasized “the power of diplomacy”.
In 2013, the Taliban set up a political office in Doha at the invitation of Qatar. Then these rebels hoisted their flag above the desk, which angered Kabul.
On Friday, two Afghan flags were flown to the luxury hotel hosting the negotiations when the turban Taliban lined up with journalists and a catering company to test for coronavirus.