After Trump Remarks, MoFA Confirms Govt Has Place in Talks; 3 Issues Holding Up Start of Doha Talks

US President Donald Trump said that the number of US forces in Afghanistan will be less than 4,000 in near future.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Afghan government has a place in the peace process, responding to recent remarks by US President Donald Trump who complimented the Taliban for being “tough” and “smart” and saying the “United States is doing well” with the militant group in the talks.

“We’re dealing very well with the Taliban,” Trump said at a news conference according to a White House statement. “They’re very tough, they’re very smart, they’re very sharp. But, you know, it’s been 19 years, and even they are tired of fighting, in all fairness.”

Trump also pointed to the peace negotiations with the Taliban and said, “we’re having some very good discussions with the Taliban, as you probably heard.”

He stressed that the number of US forces in Afghanistan will be less than 4,000 in near future. “And so we’ll be out of there, knowing that certain things have to happen — certain things have to be fulfilled.  But 19 years is a long time, 8,000 miles away. Nineteen years is a long time,” Trump added.

“President Trump’s remarks have been to the media and his own people. The Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has full contact with issues and is moving forward its activities based on that,” said Gran Hewad, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Taliban signed a peace deal with the United States on February 29. The start of last week’s peace talks in Doha between the negotiating teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban are part of the agreement the militant group signed with the US.

“The Taliban has now found their resources. Their resources are the country that is helping them. Now, if someone calls the Taliban a group, in fact, he hurts peace (process),” said Mawlawi Qalamuddin, head of Harakat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan.

US Peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in a tweet on Saturday night said that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) issued a statement on Afghanistan peace negotiations that underscores the international commitment to Afghanistan’s “sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity.”

Khalilzad said that the statement “supports the path the parties are currently on, which is to find a political settlement that accommodates all Afghans, one the region and international community can endorse in spirit and in action.”

“They should make an agreement based on the country’s national interests and based on the demand of the Afghan people, which is peace in Afghanistan,” said Gul Rahman Qazi, head of the council of peace and rescue of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, former Iranian ambassador to Kabul, Mohammad Reza Bahrami, in an article for TOLOnews, writes that achieving a real understanding in the intra-Afghan negotiations in the absence of the Doha agreement is difficult. He has also pointed out the deep rift in the demands of the two negotiating teams in Doha.

“There are deep rifts between the two negotiating teams,” Bahrami writes. “The Taliban sees the Afghan government as illegitimate and it seems that they are seeking a reestablishment of the Islamic emirate without expressing it openly at the moment.”

He also writes that the “American architects of the Doha agreement have practically ignored the current government in Afghanistan and have guaranteed in the agreement they signed with the Taliban.

The opening ceremony for the intra-Afghan negotiations was held on September 12. The two sides have held five meetings to discuss the agenda as well as rules and regulations for direct negotiations between the 21-member negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the 21-member team of the Taliban.

The two sides, according to sources, have yet to agree on three disputed points in the rules and regulations for the talks.

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20 September 2020

3 Issues Holding Up Start of Doha Talks: Sources

The regulations of the talks initially had 23 articles. It has been reduced to 20 articles after meetings of the contact groups, and it still may change.

Eight days after the opening ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations, the teams from both sides are seeking an agreement on three of over 20 articles of rules and regulations for the peace talks in Doha.

Both the Kabul and Taliban teams formed small groups called “contact groups” on the opening day of the talks on September 12. The contact groups have held five meetings so far to discuss rules and regulations as well as the agenda of the negotiations.

The regulations of the talks initially had 23 articles. It has been reduced to 20 articles after meetings of the contact groups, and it still may change.

Their disagreement is over three issues: The name given to the war, the religious legal system chosen for the negotiations, and the Taliban’s demand to include the US-Taliban agreement as the foundation of the talks, according to TOLOnews reporter Karim Amini.

“Discussions are underway on the rules and regulations as well as the disputed points. We hope that it is finalized as soon as possible,” said Fraidoon Khwazoon, spokesman for the High Council for National Reconciliation.

Information provided by sources from the two teams indicates that the Taliban is insisting on the war being called “jihad” and that the Hanafi jurisprudence is the religious basis for decision-making in the negotiations. The Taliban has also shown their opposition to mentioning the name of religions when it comes to decisions that have a religious basis.

According to article 131 of the Constitution, the courts shall apply the Shia jurisprudence in cases involving personal matters of followers of the Shia sect in accordance with the provisions of the law. In other cases, if there is no clarification in the Constitution and no other laws exist, the courts shall rule according to the laws of this sect.

“We identified each other over the last 20 years of democracy and within Afghanistan and we accepted each other. Afghanistan’s ethnic groups, the languages, the religions, were all discussed in the constitutional Loya Jirga and we officially recognized and accepted each other,” said Mohammad Mohaqiq, the head of the People’s Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan, as he addressed a gathering in Kabul on September 18.

“The Hanafi jurisprudence is not everything. It does not mean all the Sharia law. We have many instances that beliefs of Hanafi jurisprudence are referring to other jurisprudences,” said Ghulamuddin Kalantari, a religious scholar.

Sources from the negotiating teams said another demand of the Taliban is that the US-Taliban agreement be the basis for the intra-Afghan negotiations, saying it should be an inseparable part of the talks.

The significance of this, according to sources, is that it means the Taliban will not be committed to the continuation of the intra-Afghan negotiations if the US-Taliban agreement is violated.

The two sides have agreed on the use of the word “problem” instead of war or jihad in the rules and regulations, according to a source, but it is not final. However, the republic’s negotiating team has yet to agree on accepting the Hanafi jurisprudence as religious basis for the negotiations. It has also not agreed to the US-Taliban agreement as the foundation of the talks, sources familiar with the process said.

The negotiations started with the hopes to end the decades of war in the country. A number of Afghan politicians at a gathering on Friday called for unity among the people and support for the negotiating team that is representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the Doha talks.

After Trump Remarks, MoFA Confirms Govt Has Place in Talks; 3 Issues Holding Up Start of Doha Talks