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article imageTaliban leader claims "incredible strides" in peace negotiations

By Ken Hanly     Aug 9, 2019 in Politics
Doha - Taliban leader Mullah Akhundzada in a recent message talked of the "incredible strides" that are being made in peace negotiations with the US to end the Afghan war. He said the goal was to end 18 years of US occupation.
US sends different signals about the process
Akhundzada claimed the US was creating doubts about US intentions. He noted that US military officials in contrast to political officials have offered quite different assessments of the peace process.
Trump administration officials have usually portrayed a deal as achievable with a full US withdrawal. On the other hand, US military commanders have downplayed this, pointing out that nothing is completely agreed to as yet and even suggesting that the US might need to stay in Afghanistan to realize regional military goals.
Reuters reports that Akhundzada qualified his claim about progress in the peace negotiations: “However, the increasing blind and brutal bombings by America during the negotiation process, attacks on civilian areas and the contradictory statements by your military and political officials has generated a cloud of uncertainty about this process and raised doubts about your intentions. Bilateral trust is the foundation of a successful negotiations process therefore it is imperative that such negative actions are ceased."
The position of the Afghan government
The Afghan Ghani government has pointed to continued Taliban attacks as evidence they are not willing to make peace. Akhundzada claims there are reasons to question each side on this issue. Perhaps, the Taliban see the continued attacks as evidence of their strength and the need for a peace agreement to stop any violence. The US along with the Afghan forces have also continued attacks against the Taliban confirming the Taliban leader's remarks.
The Taliban have refused to negotiate directly with the Afghan government, and have worked to hold intra-Afghan talks only after there is an agreement with the US for withdrawal of foreign troops. So far, the Afghan government has been on the sidelines with just the Taliban and the US negotiating. Any negotiations with opposing Afghans will be in their personal capacity on the Taliban view even if they are members of the Ghani government.
There are some hopes that an agreement can be reached by September 1 before the upcoming Afghan presidential election. The Taliban have threatened to attack election rallies. The election will take place later in September.
More about Mullah Akhundzada, Afghan war, Afghan peace negotiations
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