Nepal | September 29, 2020

Afghan peace talks to open in Doha, 19 years after 9/11 triggered war

Reuters
Share Now:

KABUL: Talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents start in Qatar’s capital Doha on Saturday with the goal of bringing an end to nearly two decades of a conflict that has laid waste to the country and killed tens of thousands of combatants and civilians.

File – Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, and Zalmay Khalilzad, US envoy for peace in Afghanistan, shake hands after signing an agreement at a ceremony between members of Afghanistan’s Taliban and the US in Doha, Qatar February 29, 2020. Photo: Reuters

It is also the United States’ longest overseas military action, vexing three successive US presidents.

Officials, diplomats and analysts say that although getting both sides to the negotiating table was an achievement in itself, it does not mean the path to peace will be easy.

“The negotiations will have to tackle a range of profound questions about the kind of country Afghans want,” Deborah Lyons, the United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan, told the U.N Security Council this month.

The talks open with an inauguration ceremony which will be attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It takes place a day after the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States that triggered its military involvement in Afghanistan.

US forces intervened in Afghanistan on the orders of President George W. Bush a month after the attacks to hunt down their mastermind, Osama bin Laden, a Saudi who had been given sanctuary by the country’s radical Islamist Taliban rulers. They initially offered mainly air support to the Taliban‘s local enemies.

Although the Taliban regime was quickly toppled, they regrouped and have since waged an insurgency that has sucked in Afghanistan’s neighbours and troops from dozens of countries, including NATO forces.

Negotiations to broker a comprehensive peace deal were envisaged in a troop withdrawal pact signed between the United States and the Taliban in February in an attempt to find a political settlement to end the war.

After months of delay, a dispute over the Taliban‘s demand for the release of 5,000 prisoners was resolved this week.

Ahead of the US presidential election in November, President Donald Trump is also looking to show progress in his pledge to end the US involvement and pull out most of the foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan.

The United States has reduced its troop levels and by November is expected to have less than 5,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, down from about 13,000 when the US-Taliban deal was signed. More than 2,300 US troops have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, and about 450 British soldiers.

A European diplomat in Kabul said that a ceasefire – which the Taliban have so far rejected – should top the talk’s agenda.

“The Taliban leaders will have to stop fighters from attacking Afghan forces and civilians, violence continues to degrade the atmosphere and potentially derail negotiations,” the diplomat said.

How to include the Taliban, who reject the legitimacy of the Western-backed Afghan government, in any governing arrangement and how to safeguard the rights of women and minorities who suffered under Taliban rule are big challenges, experts said.

Nevertheless many diplomats, victims of violence and members of civil society say negotiations are the only realistic way to bring an end to a conflict that has killed more than 100,000 civilians and hampered Afghanistan’s development, leaving millions in poverty.

“Solutions will not be found on the battlefield, we know this,” Lyons said.

 

 


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

K-pop’s BLACKPINK drop teaser for title track ‘Lovesick Girls’ from debut album

KATHMANDU: K-pop’s most popular girl band BLACKPINK on September 28 announced Lovesick Girls, the title track of their debut full-length LP The Album. According to The Korea Times, the group's label YG Entertainment dropped a teaser poster on social media, announcing the title track, Lovesi Read More...

Global K-pop sensation BTS to drop new album ‘BE’ on November 20

KATHMANDU: K-pop supergroup BTS have announced their new album titled BE, which they will be releasing on November 20. The group’s label Big Hit Entertainment took to the group's online fan community BTS Weverse on September 28 to make the announcement, reports The Korea Herald. Without el Read More...

Armenia and Azerbaijan step up fighting in fiercest clashes since 1990s

Each side says the other firing heavy artillery Worries resurface about South Caucasus stability Azerbaijan says six of its civilians killed Nagorno-Karabakh said 15 more of its soldiers killed YEREVAN/BAKU: Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated sharply on Monday in a Read More...

Diogo Jota

Liverpool maintain 100% start with win over Arsenal

LIVERPOOL: Premier League champions Liverpool maintained their 100% start to the season with a 3-1 win against Arsenal at Anfield on Monday leaving them level on nine points with pacesetters Everton and Leicester City. The visitors took the lead through an Alexandre Lacazette strike but L Read More...

Fulham, Aston Villa, Ivan Cavaleiro, Matty Cash

Villa beat Fulham 3-0 to move into top four

LONDON: Aston Villa moved into the Premier League top four after they strolled to a 3-0 win at Fulham thanks to goals from Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane and Tyrone Mings in a lopsided contest on Monday. The result left Villa, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, fourth on a maximu Read More...

Private hospitals, labs to charge Rs 3,899 for PCR test

KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 28 Private hospitals have fixed their own rate for conducting polymerase chain reaction tests, saying that the fee allocated by the Ministry of Health and Population was too less. Eight private hospitals and labs, including HAMS Hospital, Star Hospital, B&B Hospital an Read More...

President issues ordinances on acid attack punishment, acid sale regulation

KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 28 President Bidhya Devi Bhandari today issued two ordinances to increase jail sentence for acid attackers and to regulate the sale and distribution of acid and other harmful chemicals. One of the ordinances amended the new penal code, proposing to increase jail term for a Read More...

Editorial: Unemployment problem cannot be addressed unless all levels of govt work together to create jobs within the country

The unemployment problem cannot be addressed unless all levels of govt work together to create jobs within the country Unemployment is a big problem in Nepal. That is why youths in large numbers migrate to other countries, mostly India, the Middle East, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, where they e Read More...