This week, the Taliban threatened to pull out of the Afghan peace talks, led by Zalmai Khalilzad–former US ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan and current envoy assigned to bring the negotiators to the table–impeding progress to negotiating the end of the war. The Taliban insurgents are now demanding the withdrawal of the US troops in a clear attempt to re-impose their strict laws, violate human and women’s rights, and isolate Afghanistan from the global political scene. Last week, the Taliban also canceled their fourth meeting with Khalilzad over disagreement on the agenda, further forcing their demands in an attempt to dominate the talks.
The Taliban, a necessary negotiator to reach an end to the war, has long refused to come to the peace talks with Afghan officials. The leaders of this insurgent group view the Afghan government as illegitimate and foreign-imposed on Afghans. They have continuously insisted on first brokering a deal with the United States, who toppled their regime in 2001. Afghan and American officials have been persistent in asking the Taliban leaders to speak with the Afghan officials, not American officials.
During the ongoing peace talks, the Taliban has not stopped their militant activities, executing major attacks on civilians. Just days ago, the Taliban took responsibility for a major attack in Kabul, killing and wounding more than 115 civilians. Although the target was an expatriate’s compound, the Taliban fighters blew up a car-bomb in a densely populated civilian neighborhood. This is not unusual. The Taliban militants have a history of carrying attacks in heavily civilian-populated areas.
The recent peace talks and developments at times have offered a glimmer of hope after years of violence and failed attempts to negotiate an end to the war in the country. But Afghan officials warn that a hasty process and imposing any new type of government structure in the country can jeopardize stability in the long run.
The recent peace discussions took months of preparations and secret meetings with the various parties involved, including the Afghan government, the Taliban, the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Pakistan has been a main focus for Khalilzad’s peace meetings because Pakistan has given sanctuary to the Taliban leaders. Throughout the past 17 years, this protection by Pakistan has challenged the military power of the international coalition in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban.
Media Resources: Tolo News 1/16/19, 1/17/19; Al Jazeera 1/16/19, 1/15/19