As of Saturday, September 12, intra-Afghanistan peace talks will begin. Previously, peace talks were held only between the US and the Taliban. Now the Afghani government will participate in Qatar. The initial deal was signed with the US back in February. There have been several setbacks.
The United States welcomes the announcement that Afghanistan peace negotiations will begin September 12. This is an historic moment and Afghanistan’s best chance at ending forty years of war and bloodshed.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 10, 2020
Radio Free Europe reported,
Talks were initially supposed to start the following month but were delayed as the Taliban and the Afghan government completed a prisoner exchange.
Under the U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February, international forces should withdraw from Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the militant group, which pledged to negotiate a permanent cease-fire and power-sharing deal with the Afghan government.
The deal promised 5,000 Taliban prisoners would be set free by the Afghan government ahead of the negotiations, in return for 1,000 members of the security forces held by the militants.
The last Taliban prisoners were released last week, except the six who left Kabul on a flight to Doha on September 10, Afghan officials said, paving the way for the Doha talks to begin.
The six prisoners, whose release was objected to by France and Australia because of their links to the murders of French and Australian civilians and troops in Afghanistan, are to be kept under supervision in Doha.
“The six will remain in Qatar until the end of November and could be transferred back to Kabul,” a government source told Reuters.
As we have stated frequently, the Taliban are notorious for breaking agreements and committing more violence. A lasting peace in Afghanistan maybe more of a dream than reality, unless the Taliban are actually tired of 40 years of fighting. Treachery is the name of the game. Whether or not any peace deal can be reached with them is questionable, but the parties appear to be hopeful than the country can move forward.
Featured photo: Screenshot of Taliban prisoners released from Pul-e-Charkhi prison near Kabul via Radio Free Europe/AFP