Afghanistan Global

Taliban Uses Increasing Violence as Leverage in Peace Talks

In a series of targeted killings across Afghanistan, Afghan journalists and members of civil society have become the biggest targets. Today, in yet another violent attack, Afghanistan lost a beloved and experienced journalist and a member of the civil society in Helmand, the southern part of the country. The killing of Elyas Dayee comes a day after the Afghan vice president warned that intelligence reports revealed that members of civil society are being targeted. 

Elyas Dayee was a regional reporter for one of the highly respected radio station, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Afghanistan, supported by the US. Dayee, at age 33, was recently awarded the Courageous Journalist Award of the year and is survived by a toddler daughter and his wife. He worked as a journalist for 12 years in several of the frontlines across the country. His assasination has been condemned by many, including US officials in Kabul.

The killing of Dayee comes only a few days after another highly respected journalist, Yama Siawash, was assassinated in Kabul. On Saturday, three people, including former TOLO News news anchor and journalist Yama Siawash, were killed in an explosion on their way to work. Siawash was in his late 20s, led a major news program that was critical of the Taliban, other terrorist groups, and at times had heated debates with Afghan officials too. He had received threats, leading him to leave his job for his own security, but was still assassinated.

Afghan journalists and members of the civil society call it a “systematic murders of Afghan journalists” who are reporting on realities from the ground. Many of the latest assassinations happened through exploding a magnetic IED attached to the vehicles of these targets. No groups have taken responsibility for the targeted assassinations but Afghan officials and members of the Afghan civil society believe that the Taliban is responsible for these attacks. The Taliban leadership, residing in Doha, Qatar, often claims that they are the only group behind attacks and violence.

In less than one month, the Taliban group has launched major attacks against what are called “soft targets” across the country. In October, the group targeted an educational center in the West of Kabul, killing 43 high school students who were taking additional classes to prepare for university exams. Later that week, the group attacked Kabul University, killing 22 students all between the ages of 17 and 23.

The Taliban group has increased violence in Afghanistan despite continuing to be part of the peace talks in Doha. The group says they use violence as leverage at the negotiating table. The US and the Taliban entered a peace deal in February of this year, in which the Taliban agreed to not attack US and allied forces. However, the Taliban has intensified their attacks against the Afghan people more than ever before. The Afghan people, especially women’s rights groups, have repeatedly asked the Taliban for “a comprehensive ceasefire,” a demand the group refuses to agree to. While the US officials often condemn the attacks and the rising level of violence, they have not been able to push the Taliban to agree to a ceasefire or to not target Afghan civilians.

Sources: Radio Free Europe 11/12/20; Tolo News 11/12/20