March 5, 2021
KABUL: The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is in Doha, where he met with Afghan negotiating team from the republic side and will also carry the message of “participatory government” with the Taliban, a group the US had signed a deal last year to find a political settlement to the Afghan war.
“Along with my colleagues from the negotiation team, had a fruitful meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad on the prospect of peace and the way forward,” Fawzia Koofi, a female member of Afghan negotiating team said in a tweet.
She added, “Once again emphasized on the important role women and new generation can play through the process and post peace agreement.”
During his meetings with Afghan leaders, including President Ghani, Mr. Khalilzad has offered his new plan about the Afghan solution to the government and political figures of Afghanistan.
The official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that if the Afghan officials and politicians agree with Khalilzad’s scheme, a grand meeting would be held with the participation of government officials, key politicians and representatives from Afghanistan’s neighboring countries as well as states involved in Afghanistan affairs.
The possibility of participatory government was also discussed between Afghan leaders and Khalilzad. Based on reports, a large number of politicians supported the new plan which included the participation of Taliban.
A source told Afghanistan Times that Mr. Khalilzad will meet Taliban negotiators in Doha, and will share a participatory government plan with them. He is looking to sideline the ongoing peace talks in Doha, where both negotiators (Afghan-Taliban) have so far failed to reach any progress. According to the source, Mr. Khalilzad will try to convince the Taliban to agree for a participatory government because it is the easiest way to end the war, and establish a government with participations of all segments of the Afghan society.
Before he departed to Doha, Khalilzad met with a number of Afghan lawmakers in Kabul, where he suggested the Constitution be amended so as to form a new government.
Some members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) said that according to Khalilzad, there was little hope that the Doha talks will be successful and that instead a larger summit on the future of Afghanistan is being considered.
“Mr. Khalilzad, brought a message that Americans want a participatory government in Afghanistan; when I asked this question, Khalilzad said yes, I brought this message and handed over to the government leaders,” a lawmaker, Ziauddin Zia was quoted as saying by ariananews.
“A few specific statements that he [Khalilzad] pointed out are that the Qatar talks have not achieved anything in the past four months; we don’t have any hope for Doha talks, the country leader must sit in a second country and foreign countries must monitor [meeting] so they reach an agreement; amendment of constitution so the grounds are prepared for a new government,” said Kha Agha Rezaei, another MP.
Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the country is trying to pave the way for a political agreement between the Afghan parties.
“We haven’t made any decisions about the May 1 deadline to withdraw the remaining roughly 2,500 troops that are in Afghanistan, as well as of course partner troops, NATO forces that are there. We are in very close consultation with our NATO allies, with all of the countries in the region, and what we’re looking at very carefully is what further progress can and must be made on the agreements that, for example, we reached with the Taliban under the previous administration and the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan are working on to see if the conditions can be in place for a durable peace.”
“But right now we are reviewing the question of our troop presence and we are doing it in full consultation and coordination with our allies,” Blinken said in an interview with PBS news hour.
A New Idea Floats to End War
March 3, 2021
The U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad visited Kabul and met with Afghan leaders, almost all key and influential figures with aim to discuss new steps for accelerating the peace process, but this time with new approaches and a new plan.
Indeed his full intention was to resume discussion with all parties, including women, to find a way to achieve a just and durable political settlement and permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
But this time, Khalilzad did not come with old ideas, or to call for national consensus on peace talks, rather he floated the idea of a participatory government to the Afghan leaders. Mr. Khalilzad had handed them a draft of the plan, asking them to share their views as soon as possible. Based on the plan, Doha talks will be sidelined and a meeting will be held at the international level to discuss the prospect of an interim government that would include the Taliban.
Mr. Khalilzad also seems to have aimed to bring amendments to the peace agreement signed with the Taliban in 2020. These are a few new steps taken by Joe Biden administration not only to follow the path of peace talks but to bring it to a logical point as ongoing talks in Doha have proven unproductive.
In the first anniversary of the US-Taliban deal, Taliban demanded the release of more Taliban prisoners and the removal of their names from the blacklist and also called for the withdrawal of all international forces from Afghanistan.
The deal has emboldened the Taliban, as they already warned of unprecedented war unless the US implemented the Doha deal. In return, the US doubted the Taliban, accused the group of still having ties with al-Qaeda, and also accelerated attacks.
With such threatening statements, it’s more than clear that Doha talks and the US deal with Taliban failed to bring peace. This is nothing but a fruitless effort and waste of time.
Since the start of negotiations in September, war and insecurity have been increased, even the new trend of targeted-killings, including attacks on journalists, civil society workers, doctors, judges, religious figures, and female employees have hit unprecedented level, where only on Tuesday’s terrorist attack three female journalists were gunned down in a daylight attack in Jalalabad city.
So when there is a deadlock in Doha talks with hope already vanished, the best and great idea floated by the US peace envoy Khalilzad is another Bonn Conference-style meeting to help succeed in forming a partnership government with inclusion of Taliban. Apparently, many Afghan leaders have backed the scheme as it would be the easiest and simplest way to get all the Afghan warring parties onboard and eventually to put a halt to the long years of war and bloodshed.