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article imageOp-Ed: Taliban rejects Afghan government choice of negotiators

By Ken Hanly     Mar 30, 2020 in Politics
On Friday March 27 the Afghan government of Afran Ghani announced that they had appointed a negotiating team for talks with the Taliban,. There was domestic criticism of the group as all were allies of the president Ghani.
Abdullah Abdullah also claims to be president
Abdullah Abdullah also claims to have won the presidency and has had his own inauguration. The Ghani negotiating group contains no representatives who are allied with Abdullah Abdullah. Many have criticized Ghani for not sending a more inclusive group including allies of the Abdullah Abdullah rival government. Ghani's choice looks to sabotage any talks.
Taliban reject Ghani's team
The Taliban refuse to recognize Ghani's choice of negotiators arguing that they can only negotiate with a committee representing all sides. In response the Ghan government claims the group is as inclusive as possible and it will not not make any changes whatsoever.
In a statement, Najia Anwari, spokesperson for the country’s National Security Council: “The peace committee formed by the government is inclusive and represents influential segments of the society. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s peace delegation is complete now. There are no changes possible." She neglects to mention that those influential members do not include any allies of Ghani's opponent who is also a claimant to the presidency. Anwari also claims the Taliban should join the talks to show their desire for peace. However, the Afghan government attacked the Taliban after they rejected the committee.
Talks also stalled due to difficulties in agreeing to prisoner swap
As part of a confidence building measure the agreement between the Taliban and the US, signed the end of February, involved a prisoner swap. However, the Afghan government did not agree to the terms and there have been continual negotiations to try and come to agreement. Recently US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mediated talks between the Afghan government and Afghans as reported in a recent Digital Journal article. The talks that the negotiating team were intended to join have been put on hold in any event until the Afghan government releases Taliban prisoners in a manner acceptable to the Taliban. The first release is expected the end of March.
The Taliban have demanded release of 5,000 of their members in return for the release of 1,000 Afghan government officials, and security personnel they hold prisoner. The Afghan government has not met the demand so far and is insisting that they prisoners be released in phases and in tandem with intra-Afghan talks and a ceasefire. Those conditions have not yet been realized.
Afghan government attacks Taliban
In response to the rejection the Afghan military launched an attack on a Taliban hideout in Ghor province that reportedly kiiled at least 13 fighters. Officials claim the attack was intended to disrupt the Taliban's ability to attack checkpoints in the area. However, the attack could cause the Taliban to resume attacks and not reduce violence as they had been asked. The situation appears to be developing towards a continuing war rather than any ceasefire with peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Taliban Afghan relations, Ashraf Ghani, Taliban in Afghanistan
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