More than a month after the Afghan peace talks began in Doha, Qatar, the Taliban has increased its attacks on both Afghan civilians and the Afghan army. While the Taliban continues to engage in the peace talks with the Afghan government, the group continues to use violence as leverage in the Intra-Afghan Talks. The war is taking the lives of many Afghan civilians and army personnel.
The Taliban attacked Helmand province seven days ago and continues to fight, forcing nearly 40,000 locals to leave their homes. The Taliban has also been actively fighting in three other provinces and several other districts. In counterattacks, the Afghan forces have caused heavy casualties on the Taliban’s fighters too.
The ongoing violence has caused tremendous damage and people continue to suffer. Afghan officials as well as Afghan civilians have been demanding a comprehensive ceasefire, a demand the Taliban refuses.
The Taliban and the US signed a deal on February 29th of this year in which the Taliban committed to not attacking American and its allied forces. However, the deal did not include the same protection for the Afghan civilians and the Afghan army. In contrast, the Taliban has increased its attacks in Afghanistan, aiming to use its violent power to sway the peace talks in its favor.
Peace talks began with the Taliban and the Afghan government’s team on September 12 in Doha, a day after the 19th anniversary of 9/11. The talks were stalled for weeks because the Taliban demanded to negotiate on the basis of the agreement between them and the US. The Taliban-US agreement, referred to as the Doha agreement, generously favors the Taliban. The agreement does not recognize the Afghan government as an official body in the talks, giving the Taliban a more powerful position in the talks.
The Afghan government rejects to base the talks on the Doha agreement, a document to which they were not a party to and are not recognized as the legitimate representative of the Afghan people. The Afghan government believes the talks should be based on the framework agreed to by the Afghan people at a recent inclusive consultation as well as other agreements, especially the US and the Afghan government’s joint statement on the peace process.
The Taliban and the Afghan government met on Wednesday to restart their talks in Doha. The Taliban continues to call the Afghan government a “puppet government” and does not recognize the team representing the state of Afghanistan. The group also refuses a ceasefire or reduction in violence, despite the continuous demands of the Afghan people. In response to the rise in violence, the US Envoy to the Peace Talks said, “Attacks have been on the rise in recent weeks – threatening the peace process and alarming the Afghan people and their regional and international supporters.” He continued to state that he and other American officials have been in touch with the Taliban on reducing the violence.
Sources: Tolo news 10/16/20 Twitter, 10/15/20 NPR 10/13/20