Abdul Wahed Haidari

Intra-Afghan negotiations and its sidelines

After several decades of war and conflict in Afghanistan, parties involved sat on the negotiations table in Doha, Qatar and it should consider the first-ever peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. This is the first direct talks between the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government. The militants had until now refused to meet the government, calling them powerless and American puppets.

US-led troops have been present in Afghanistan for nearly two decades and at 19 years, the conflict in Afghanistan has been the longest war in US history.

My findings from Doha:

1 – The Taliban are stepping forward very careful against Afghan government. This carefulness is more about those issues that have a religious aspect. The reason for this is to keep the morale of their soldiers alive in the battlefields. Taliban’s leaders said that their presence in Doha was made possible by the efforts of their militants and commanders in the battlefield. Their fear is that if they move a little against their Islamic ideals at the negotiating table, their fighters will turn away from them. Taliban’s leaders have realized that in the current situation, efforts are likely to be made to dismantle the group; Hence, they are more likely stick to the wishes of their warlords and military commissions.

A person once went to Mullah Omar and asked him to allow the girls to go to school according to Islamic Sharia. Mullah Omar was replied that he understand that banning girls from school is against the religion of Islam; But now, if he allows them, the military commanders will accuse him of surrendering to the West and will turn away from him. This shows that even Mullah Omar was afraid of military commanders during his lifetime.

2 – Pakistan says Afghan talks are producing positive results, and a government based on Islamabad’s will soon be formed in Afghanistan, which has strongly made India concerned. Indian leaders believe the Taliban are close to Pakistan and that Afghanistan’s future government which is currently under discussion in Doha will be in detriment to India. India is trying to sabotage the talks in every possible way, and Iran is seeking to disrupt the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and wants to keep the US busy in Afghanistan so that Tehran can do better in Yemen and Syria.

China is also waiting for Pakistan to fulfill its commitment. Sources say that Islamabad has promised Beijing that it will gift the future government of Afghanistan to China, and Islamabad’s diplomatic apparatus is working hard to achieve this goal.

3 – As the stalemate in establishing a dialogue agenda on two disputed issues, the Americans want to put pressure on Afghan government to resolve disputes with flexibility, as the Taliban wants. The United States seeks to make Doha Agreement (US-Taliban Agreement) as the base of Intra-afghan dialogues. Continuing dialogues based on US-Taliban agreement can provide the ground for the establishment of an interim administration. The agreement includes an interim administration with a key Taliban presence. It is also realized by Ashraf Ghani and Abdulllah Abdullah. That is why Ghani opposes the principle of the US-Taliban agreement. He considers it as isolating him from power.

4 – President Ghani has recently said at a meeting that he would not step down at any cost, and would not hand over the country to the Taliban. He explicitly stated that either he would preserve the republic or his dead body would drag out from the Arg (Presidential Palace). Mr. Ghani emphasized that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in May would have no effect on the quality of his governance. He pointed out that if the United States stands against him and puts pressure on his government by cutting financial support, the neighboring countries, the region and even the European Union will support and fund him in maintaining the republic. He cited Iran, Central Asia, China, India and the European Union as opposed to the Taliban regime.

5 – Doha talks have totally stalled. Two sources from Kabul and Doha said that currently, there are no dialogues between two sides and there is no contact between both teams. The main controversial issue is the agreement and religion. Taliban warned Afghan negotiating team, which ended without result, saying that Taliban accept the decision which will make on the basis of Hanafi jurisprudence, otherwise the Afghan government can leave Doha. No meeting has been held between two sides. The Afghan side in Kabul is trying to break the deadlock with the mediation of the US embassy. Apparently, this controversy intensified after its revelation. Both sides are being judged by public people and are trying to put their will on the seats. The flexibility of each can accuse them of being short-sighted among their supporters and weaken their stance in the middle of their psyche.

6 – The Afghan government is trying to indirectly control the media in connection with Doha peace process and the ongoing talks. That’s why, the Afghan government delegations held a meeting with reporters on Saturday without video cameras. The ongoing issues in Doha that the people and media were not yet aware of, have discussed during this meeting. During this meeting, it was emphasized which topics should be public and published in news reports through media. The members of the delegation asked journalists to put pressure on both sides, especially on Taliban, to show flexibility and bring them to the judgment of people.