Peace talks

Dagmawi Tilahun, Graphics mods editor

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Peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, a religious fundamental group who held power over most of Afghanistan in the late 1990’s, began in Oct.of 2018. The peace talks carried on throughout the year, a deal being agreed between the two in principle during summer 2019. The meeting took place in Qatar with hopes of ending the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan. The conflict that the peace talks centered around carries a long and bloody history.

In 1999, the U.N. Security Council dubbed both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorist organizations, creating a sanctioning committee that imposes restrictions on their funding, travel and arms shipments. This move from the U.N. comes after U.S. indictments on Bin-Laden for his role of the August 7, 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya, the Republic of Tanzinia and conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals. 

The Taliban, which appeared after then Post-Soviet Afghani Civil War, was interlinked with Bin-Laden and Al-Qaeda  before 9/11 through an alignment of philosophy, they both had very similar views on how the Quran should be interpreted. After 9/11 the relationship was burdened and needed tangible gestures for its continuation and for the Taliban’s willingness to house members of al-Qaeda in their territories. Ahmad Shah Massoud, commander of the Northern Alliance, an anti-Taliban coalition, was assassinated by agents of Al-Qaeda. The killing of Massoud, a specialist of guerilla warfare known as the Lion of Panjshir, provided a serious blow to the anti-Taliban resistance. Terrorism experts believe that his assassination enabled Osama Bin Laden protection by the Taliban after the infamous 9/11 attacks. 

With the perpetrators identified as Al-Qaeda agents, President Bush focused on the Taliban who housed them as guests,“Deliver to the United States authorities all the leaders of al-Qaeda who hide in your landor share in their fate,” said Bush in an address to the Taliban shortly after 9/11.

Fast forward 18 years of war and conflict that followed that statement peace was a close possibility.

The peace talks that began in 2018 were headed towards conclusion, but ultimately cut short. A suicide car bombing occurred in Kabul Sept. 5, 2019, Killing 12 people, including one U.S. soldier. 

The peace talks swiftly died out after the fact, courtesy of President Donald Trump as soon as it was heard that the Taliban took credit for the attacks, stating, “They are dead. They are dead. As far as I’m concerned, they are dead,” said President Trump. 

The bombingns have stalled a year of progress in negotiations. “Nothing that’s any different from any previous attacks.  This just appears to be how they operate, peace talks or not. The message is that they do not want other countries inserting themselves into Afghani politics,” said Trina Kirby,  AP Human Geography teacher at Athens.

There was a scheduled meeting at Camp David prior to these events in which a meeting between the U.S., the Taliban and the Afghani President would have occurred. President Trump signaled his displeasure of the situation to the media,

“They thought that they had to kill people in order to put themselves in a little better negotiating position … You can’t do that with me, so they [the talks] are dead as far as I’m concerned,” Trump said.  

Taliban representatives expressed surprise to the sudden decision, 

“It was astonishing for us because we had already concluded the peace agreement with the American negotiating team,” Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman said.

 After nine rounds of negotiating in Qatar’s capital, Doha, it seemed that the U.S. and Talibani differences were resolved. The U.S. special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad also said a deal was finalized in principle. The Taliban’s main agreement was to offer safe passage of withdrawal of U.S. troops ending America’s occupation.

“If the Americans want to not attack us, and they want to withdraw, and they sign the agreement, yes we will not attack them but if they attack us, they continue their bombardment, their night raids, [then] that will continue from our side what has been continuing for the last 18 years,” said Shaheen. 

With peace talks currently awry uncertainty looms on Afghanistan. The Taliban keeps the door open for re-negotiations to proceed but it is unclear when or if the U.S. will oblige. 

Photos by MC2 STEVENSON

 

 

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