Taliban: Doha Talks Need Patience, Not Mediators

We will not allow anyone to interfere in our internal affairs,” said Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban.

As US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad recently arrived in Doha to “meet with partners on Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace negotiations,” the Taliban’s spokesman Mohammad Naeem said that the group does not feel the need for a mediator for the Afghan peace negotiations and stated that resolving a 40-year conflict requires patience to reach a conclusion.

A TOLOnews story on Wednesday quoted Afghans who raised the question about the need for a mediator amid the current deadlock. Contact groups from both sides have failed to fully agree on the procedural rules, and this delay prolongs the time before an official face-to-face talk between both negotiation teams is possible.

Naeem said that the 40-year conflict in Afghanistan requires important, ongoing discussions, and stated that both sides of the Afghan peace negotiations should demonstrate patience for purposeful peace negotiation talks.

“If we hurry and expect to resolve all the issues in 20 days or a month, I think this will not bring us to our objectives,” said Mohammad Naeem.

Khalilzad’s trip to Doha meanwhile has sparked mixed reactions in Kabul.

“I see this stalemate as a bit artificial because we witnessed a controversy over the release of prisoners, but it was resolved on the 11th of September, now I think the solution to this issue has been scheduled for a certain date,” said Abdul Karim Khurram, former chief of staff to former president Hamid Karzai.

“This indicates that we, the people of Afghanistan, can’t reach an agreement without foreign pressure,” said Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, the first deputy of the Meshrano Jirga (Senate).

“We will not allow anyone to interfere in our internal affairs,” said Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban.

But the US embassy in Kabul has said that neither the US nor its allies are willing to impose their solutions on the Afghans.

“…The two parties have agreed that they would carry out an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process without a mediator, they have been at work for 20 or so days, these things take a little time, especially when they are starting from nothing. I think it is our view and the view of other countries that are trying to help Afghanistan achieve peace.

This is up to the parties to decide, we and others stand ready to help, we are not interested in imposing a solution or imposing ourselves in the process, but supporting what the parties at the negotiating table feel they need,” said Ross Wilson, the US embassy’s chargé d’affaires.

Nevertheless, Abdullah Abdullah, the head of High Council of National Reconciliation, in an interview with Reuters, said that he does not expect the US elections to have much of an impact on the peace process in Afghanistan.

“Nobody can say with certainty what would be the impact of the outcome of the elections in the United States, but based on my experiences and interactions, the policy will not change that much,” said Abdullah Abdullah.

In Kabul, a number of university lecturers and civil society activists in a meeting convened on peace said that the talks in Doha must ensure the civil liberties and the rights of Afghan women.

“The women should not be whipped in the name of religion,” said Zainab Muwahid, a university lecturer.

“War is not the solution, the Afghan conflict needs to be settled on the negotiation table through talks,” said Habiburrahman Hekmatyar, the son of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hizb-e-Islami party.

Afghans call for peace as the war rages in 24 provinces of the country.

Latest incidents of violence:

A suicide attacker in a vehicle detonated explosives in Helmand province on Wednesday at a police checkpoint, killing nine people–including five security force members and four civilians–and wounding four others, including a child, local officials said.

Omar Zowak, the provincial governor’s spokesperson, said the incident happened Wednesday evening when a security checkpoint was targeted by a car bomb in the Helmand-Kandahar highway in Nare Saraj district.

Also on Wednesday, Afghan security officials said that the Taliban attacked the center of Farang district of Baghlan province Tuesday night and after a short battle the Taliban were able to enter the police headquarters of the district.

In Badakhshan in northern Afghanistan, Abdul Zahir, police chief of Kohistan district in Badakhshan, was killed on Tuesday night in a Taliban attack in the district, police said Wednesday.

Sanaullah, Badakhshan’s police spokesman, said that the Taliban attacked the district and the clash went from 9:00 am till 12:00 am local time and during the clash a district police chief and two other police were killed.

At least four Taliban were killed, and five were wounded, and the Taliban was eventually forced to retreat, said the police.

Meanwhile, the contact groups of both sides of the Afghan peace negotiations have discussed the rules many times over the last 20 days but have not reached an agreement.

The Taliban demand recognition of the US-Taliban agreement as the ‘mother deal’ underlying the Afghan peace negotiations, and Hanafi Figh as the sole religious legal guidelines for the talks.

The Disputed Points

The Taliban demand recognition of the US-Taliban agreement as the ‘mother deal’ underlying the Afghan peace negotiations, and Hanafi Figh as the sole religious legal guidelines for the talks.

“There is a huge difference in the views between the two sides, therefore gaps and delays are common during the talks,” said Mohammad Rasoul Talib, a member of the republic’s negotiating team.

Reports say that the republic’s team has suggested alternatives to the Taliban’s demands.

The republic’s team has proposed that if a religious issue arises it can be solved based on Hanafi Figh by default, however, the Shia Personal Status Law must be respected, and the choice of religious jurisprudence should be given to other minority groups as well.

Regarding the US-Taliban agreement, the republic’s team recommended four options:

First option: The terms of the US-Taliban agreement could be accepted as underlying the talks, however, the terms of the joint declaration between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, NATO and the US should also be accepted as applicable.

Second option: Neither the US-Taliban agreement nor the declarations of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with the US and NATO will be recognized as having any authority, and the negotiations will move forward based on the decisions of the consultative Loya Jirga and the Jirga’s declarations.

Third option: Both sides start talks “based on the national interest of Afghanistan.”

Fourth option: The Quran and Hadith are the main authority for the talks, replacing all others.

The Taliban insist that talking about the Jafari Figh under current circumstances is not logical but said that this can be discussed during the talks about the Constitution of the country.

Taliban: Doha Talks Need Patience, Not Mediators