Taliban plans to open offices in Qatar for negotiations 13 replies

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Commissar MercZ

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#1 6 years ago

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/04/world/asia/taliban-to-open-qatar-office-in-step-toward-peace-talks.html?_r=1&hp

Taliban to Open Qatar Office in Step to Formal Talks

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG

KABUL, Afghanistan — Giving a first major public sign that they may be ready for formal talks with the American-led coalition in Afghanistan, the Taliban announced Tuesday that they had struck a deal to open a political office in Qatar that could allow for direct negotiations over the endgame in the Afghan war.

The step was a reversal of the Taliban’s longstanding public denials that they were involved in, or even willing to consider, talks related to their insurgency, and it had the potential to revive a reconciliation effort that stalled in September, with the assassination of the head of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council.

It was unclear, however, whether the Taliban were interested in working toward a comprehensive peace settlement or mainly in ensuring that NATO ends its operations in Afghanistan as scheduled in 2014, which would remove a major obstacle to the Taliban’s return to power in all or part of the country.

In a statement, Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said that along with a preliminary deal to set up the office in Qatar, the group was asking that Taliban detainees held at the American prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, be released. Mr. Mujahid did not say when the Qatar office would be opened, or give specifics about the prisoners the Taliban wanted freed.

“We are at the moment, besides our powerful presence inside the country, ready to establish a political office outside the country to come to an understanding with other nations,” the statement said.

American officials have said in recent months that the opening of a Taliban mission would be the single biggest step forward for peace efforts that have been plagued by false starts. The most embarrassing came in November 2010, when it emerged that an impostor had fooled Western officials into thinking he represented the Taliban and then had disappeared with hundreds of thousands of dollars used to woo him.

The official killed in September, Burhanuddin Rabbani, had been greeting a supposed Taliban negotiator when the man detonated a bomb in his turban.

The opening of an office in Qatar is meant to give Afghan and Western peace negotiators an “address” where they can openly contact legitimate Taliban intermediaries. That would open the way for confidence-building measures that Washington hopes to press forward in the coming months. Chief among them, American officials said, is the possibility of transferring a number of “high-risk” detainees — including some with ties to Al Qaeda — to Afghan custody from Guantánamo Bay. The prisoners would then presumably be freed later.

American officials said they would consider transferring only those prisoners the Afghan authorities requested. Among the names being discussed are Muhammad Fazl, the former Taliban deputy defense minister; two former provincial governors, Khairullah Khairkhwa of Herat and Noorullah Nori of Balkh; Abdul Haq Wasiq, a former top Taliban intelligence official; and one of the Taliban’s top financiers, Muhammad Nabi. Mr. Fazl is accused of having commanded forces that killed thousands of Shiite Muslims, who are a minority in Afghanistan, while the Taliban ruled the country.

The American officials said that another idea under consideration was the establishment of cease-fire zones within Afghanistan, although that prospect was more uncertain and distant. The officials asked not to be identified because of the delicacy of the talks.

Some analysts are skeptical of the prospect for meaningful peace negotiations with the Taliban. The Taliban are viewed as unlikely to cede significant ground at a time when NATO has begun to withdraw troops and intends to end combat operations here in less than three years. Another uncertainty is the role of Pakistan, which provides safe haven to Taliban leaders and has undermined past efforts at reconciliation talks that it sees as jeopardizing its interests.

But American officials have said for years that the war in Afghanistan would ultimately require a political solution. The “surge” of additional troops at the end of 2009 has largely been aimed at getting the Taliban to the negotiating table.

On Tuesday, the White House affirmed the necessity of a negotiated solution. Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, said in an e-mail that such “Afghan-led peace initiatives” were central to the American strategy of “denying Al Qaeda a safe haven, reversing the Taliban’s momentum, and strengthening the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government.”

Western officials stressed that a peace process was closer to the beginning than the end.

“Publicly, I don’t think we could have asked for a stronger endorsement of the peace process from the other side,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul, who asked not to be identified, in keeping with diplomatic protocol. “But this isn’t even close to having a done deal. That’s going to take years, if it even happens.”

There was no immediate comment from President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, who has been cool to the idea of NATO’s conducting its own talks with the Taliban, fearing a deal that would undermine his control.

When word that Qatar had agreed to host a Taliban office first surfaced in December, the Karzai government rejected the notion and recalled its ambassador from the Persian Gulf state.

Afghan officials complained at the time that they had not been formally notified by the Qataris, and that they preferred that any such mission be in Saudi Arabia or Turkey. But a week ago, Mr. Karzai grudgingly agreed to Qatar as the site. Still, Mr. Karzai is likely to remain insistent that any talks be limited to reducing tensions rather than achieving a comprehensive solution to the war.

Even so, Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, appointed by Mr. Karzai, welcomed the Taliban move. Arsala Rahmani, a top negotiator on the council, called it “a gesture of good faith,” Reuters reported.

Three suicide bombings on Tuesday in the southern city of Kandahar provided a bloody reminder of the violence that continues to plague Afghanistan. Thirteen people, including a child and four police officers, were killed, Faisal Ahmad, a spokesman for the government of Kandahar Province, told The Associated Press.

Since the debacle with the impostor, the United States and its allies have focused on establishing a trustworthy channel for pursuing a peace deal with the Taliban. The push began early last year when American and German negotiators managed to make contact with a man they believed to be a legitimate representative of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s reclusive leader.

The Western diplomat said Tuesday that the Taliban announcement was a product of 10 months of on-again, off-again talks with the man, Tayeb Agha, a former secretary to Mullah Omar. The talks were shrouded in secrecy in large part to protect Mr. Agha and other Taliban intermediaries.

The biggest concern was that Pakistan, where most of the Taliban’s leadership is believed to reside, would obstruct any talks in which it did not play a direct role.

Afghan and American officials have long feared that Pakistan aimed to use the peace process, which it says it supports, as a way to solidify a dominant position in Afghanistan. The Qatar office is seen as a way of lessening Pakistani influence over the talks.

Sharifullah Sahak contributed reporting from Kabul, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.

Of course as the article points out this is still at the beginning rather than the end, and there are many variables that can complicate things. But its probably somewhere the US feels might be less influenced by Pakistan or other regional actors. At the least though the US and Afghanistan seem to think this is genuine- both in the sense that it's not words or an imposter (like the embarrassing case referred to in the article).




Asheekay

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#2 6 years ago

Has the world had less of their ruthless acts and horrid plans (almost equaling zionists) that they would be interested in conferencing with them for peace?

Crushing those biased, high handed, extremists is in favor of all the parties involved: America, Pakistan, Afghan civilians and the rest of the world.




Commissar MercZ

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#3 6 years ago

True, though with the way the war is going so far they've been trying to drive at peace for a long time. Though ideally the way to undercut the Taliban's support is to do a genuine reform targeting many of the woes of the people in Afghanistan- land reform, jobs, education, etc. which isn't going to happen. The current government benefits from corruption that drives a lot of people into rebel groups, even if they don't agree 100% with their views.

But so long as Afghanistan occupies this apparently important point and certain nations court governments and groups there, this kind of behavior will be continue. If they do what you want them to do, there might not be as much an inclination to lean on them to change and help the people, or you risk alienating them and pushing them into one of the rival's arms.




Asheekay

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#4 6 years ago

Whats jobs can you offer to those people? Its a barren region. No crops other than opium, no suitable place for setting up heavy industry. What else can a country sustain on? A country can either base its economy on natural resources (farming and minerals being the most common) or on importing raw material and preparing products with it (like Japan does) and afghanistan can't do either of these.

Yes, agreed that the sad fact of the situation is that all of the afghanistan is littered with religious extremists. The belief doesn't matter. What matters is that each of them would either kill all the people of different religious opinion (if given the chances) or have himself killed in the "noble war".

So in the end, no matter if you make dialogues with taliban or keep the war on, things are not going to change in afghanistan. Its going to stay a zone of war eternally, as of the situation right now.




Commissar MercZ

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#5 6 years ago
Asheekay;5600220Whats jobs can you offer to those people? Its a barren region. No crops other than opium, no suitable place for setting up heavy industry. What else can a country sustain on? A country can either base its economy on natural resources (farming and minerals being the most common) or on importing raw material and preparing products with it (like Japan does) and afghanistan can't do either of these.

The problem that holds back Afghanistan currently regards the way land reform was handled in the past. There's still a substantial grasp of certain tribal landowners who hold down vast amounts of land with a larger amount of landless rural workers who depend on them for that. There's a great deal of exploitation by these tribal landlords in near feudal conditions that on one hand provides extremist groups plenty of discontent recruits, and on the other provides tribal landlords with the manpower to become warlords.

The Communist-backed PDPA in the 80s attempted to implement this land-reform, but it was poorly thought out and coupled with an ill-conceived attack on a largely religious society that alienated the same commoners it was meant to help.

It's the same problem that plagued many nations that could not 'modernize' their economies and social relations, that preferred to stay in an older rural-based system with poorly utilized land, and Afghanistan was among the worst offenders in that regard.

It doesn't help that most of Afghanistan's government currently comes from this kind of tribal-landowner division, so they won't be likely to alleviate the condition of this anytime soon. The 'popular' sentiment against landowners, which was once exclusively the terrain of the 'godless socialists', has been co-opted by the Taliban.

Yes, agreed that the sad fact of the situation is that all of the afghanistan is littered with religious extremists. The belief doesn't matter. What matters is that each of them would either kill all the people of different religious opinion (if given the chances) or have himself killed in the "noble war".

These people I think wouldn't be as keen to jump into those things if they didn't have anger or discontent to begin with. Most of this is simply a form of recruiting targeting people to channel their anger into something more 'constructive' in such a way they think will effect a change on their way of living.

You generally don't see people as likely to join violent groups if they're well off or don't perceive being 'oppressed' by another- be it a perceived ethnic preference by the government, business/government collusion and corruption, or an external power- that they attribute to their poor state of life.

Much of the 'religious-themed' violence anywhere is always in the context of who holds what power in the nation or area. Religion, ideology, etc. often only serves to make it more palpable to those involved.

So in the end, no matter if you make dialogues with taliban or keep the war on, things are not going to change in afghanistan. Its going to stay a zone of war eternally, as of the situation right now.

I think it could reach a point of peace. The problem I think is that the situation is significantly exacerbated by many different groups outside the country trying to influence what goes on in that country. Certain nations have interfered with Afghanistan's affairs in the past and continue to do so- at the way things are going right now everything's boiling down into a zero-sum game to make sure no one faction gets the upper hand. Most of the involved factions have pretty much worn themselves out, meaning in the aftermath their policies and decisions still be heavily influenced by who ever their benefactors are.




EO Violation

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#6 6 years ago
Asheekay;5600220Whats jobs can you offer to those people? Its a barren region. No crops other than opium, no suitable place for setting up heavy industry. What else can a country sustain on? A country can either base its economy on natural resources (farming and minerals being the most common) or on importing raw material and preparing products with it (like Japan does) and afghanistan can't do either of these.

How about the billions, if not trillions, of dollars worth of minerals and precious metals? There are a dozen mines operating in my little corner of the world alone, some are quite large.




Asheekay

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#7 6 years ago

You sure Commissar Mercz that the general public of Afghanistan is not religiously extremist? Read this: Sahibzada Abdul Latif - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I agree to some extent to your belief that economically satisfied people are not as energetic to take part in mayhem and religious bloodshed as a deprived person, but economic satisfaction is not everything. Do you not know about Osama Bin Ladin and how wealthy he was? Economically speaking, he had no reason to wage a war against usa. But he did. And Osama was not the sole economical engine of al qaeda. The organisation was (and perhaps is) being funded by many groups and individuals all over the globe.

Marx wasn't right when he said economy is everything.

EO Violation:

We are also aware of the diamonds of Angola and other south-african countries. Those mines led to more misery and bloodshed in their region than prosperity.




Commissar MercZ

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#8 6 years ago
Asheekay;5600508You sure Commissar Mercz that the general public of Afghanistan is not religiously extremist? Read this: Sahibzada Abdul Latif - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yes, and look at his date and when he lived. Every country has its persecuted religious minorities that gather supporters in pogroms and have a long lasting influence. Then look at the history of Afghanistan, or at least the polities that have covered its time for a long time, and see what sort of relations have dominated it, and the individual's relationship to the British attempts to spread from South Asia. These things are not isolated. It's the same backdrop as to why, for example, Christian groups became targets of violence by the Ottoman Empire in its dying days due to paranoia that they were acting as a fifth column for the Russians and other European nations.

I agree to some extent to your belief that economically satisfied people are not as energetic to take part in mayhem and religious bloodshed as a deprived person, but economic satisfaction is not everything. Do you not know about Osama Bin Ladin and how wealthy he was? Economically speaking, he had no reason to wage a war against usa. But he did. And Osama was not the sole economical engine of al qaeda. The organisation was (and perhaps is) being funded by many groups and individuals all over the globe.

I'm talking about the good chunk of the population. Bin Laden came from a wealthy family in Saudi Arabia which is also plagued by the same problems- a very small and wealthy ruling class with most of the population scrounging by below it, trying to get by despite the nation's rich resources. Bin Laden saw an opportunity to try and manipulate and exploit this powerful sentiment.

You have many people in the United States that are considerably wealthy but commit their resources to rather questionable religious positions. Much of the fierce proselytizing of Christian groups in Africa and East Asia have their sources stateside. The source for funding and writing the infamous "Kill the Gays" Bill of Uganda finds its source in the United States

I think however that a lot of Afghani's lot can be improved by at least decreasing the significant gap in wealth between the vast majority of the population, and the small, landlord and warlords that dominate above them that is closely tied to the tribal system- which by extension has been able to persist thanks to an insulated and mostly integrated national economy. This system has been given a reprieve on extension due to the US's support of the Northern Alliance against the Taliban- which has allowed for this problem to persist. The conservative mindset and religious pigheadedness would exist for sometime afterwards- but it would be least likely to send people in droves joining warlords and other groups to engage in violence in order to get what they need.

Marx wasn't right when he said economy is everything.

Why are you bringing Marx into this though? Of course it's ridiculous to have a strictly reductionist view on society that brings things down to the economy and means of production, but going to the other end and attributing people's actions to solely ideology/religion isn't a solution either. People are affected by a large collection of factors- and their overall quality of life is a significant factor in whether or not dissent will be created.

Ideology and religion moves itself into a position to channel those grievances into a more concrete movement to presumably 'change' things for the better.

We are also aware of the diamonds of Angola and other south-african countries. Those mines led to more misery and bloodshed in their region than prosperity.

Because they don't really get much out of them them- most of these resources are continued to be more or less used by the same foreign corporations that they had presumably 'ejected' during their anti-colonial period and maintain influence in those country's politics and economy. A clientele system is established where in what ever profits are retained from the royalties is usually squandered away by the person and their circle of family and associates. There is no real 'national' economy but rather a free-for-all mentality that persists from abrupt regime changes and civil wars.

A more relevant example would be to look what has happened in the DR Congo since the overthrow of Mobotu Sese Seko that turned into a regional war involving much of the surrounding countries. This persists with countries like Rwanda and Uganda supporting warlords to exploit the mineral rich east, which it in turn procures and moves through their respective countries to eastern ports- rather than western ones within the Congo itself- so as to get more out of the trade. In return leaders within the Congo itself hoard what ever proceeds they manage to get from the same system of warlords and clients controlling mines allied with them,

A lot of that comes right back to the big powers that continue to exploit it one way or another and create the demand for this activity. In that regard there's really nothing Afghanistan could presumably do to become something more 'westernized' because it would not allow for this to happen. It'll be nearly impossible to exploit those resources alone- and those factions will associate with some nation or corporation to sell those resources to them.

Again, I don't think anyone has much sympathy for the Taliban's tactics or ideological mindset- but groups like the Taliban don't just sprout out of no where, much less with the degree of manpower and damage they are causing. Ideally I would like to see those groups removed and not be dealt with at all, but they're a reflection of an ugly political reality in Afghanistan- the central government isn't much liked by the people.




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#9 6 years ago

What else are we supposed to do? Love em or hate em, the Taliban brought ruthless efficient control to the region. Thats all the common Afghani really cares about. Its not about schools, or infrastructure or even religion. Its about Security. When the Taliban was in control, drug gangs were non-existant and even though the average person lived a life like it was the 17th century, for the first time in Afghan history it was relatively stable.

In comes Uncle Sam and all that shiat is out the window. You got drug gangs setting up shop turning the place into Colombia. You have Afgan nationalist waging guerrilla war against Taliban who are proxy fighting for Pakistan with Al-Q as a wildcard pissing EVERYONE off. The whole world knows NATO isnt going to be there forever so whats the point of propping up Karzai and his completely clusterfarked and corrupt regime that really only controls Kabul? Soon as NATO pulls out Karzai and his ilk will loot what they can and pull out before they get Ghaddafied.

The only folks there with the ability to last are the taliban, They control the majority of the country and have the widest support base. You CANNOT even begin to entertain the notion of a peaceful resolution or armistice in Afghanistan without bringing them to the table. It would be like having tried to discuss post war Germany without bringing the Soviets into the discussion




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#10 6 years ago

Roaming East;5600688

The only folks there with the ability to last are the taliban, They control the majority of the country and have the widest support base. You CANNOT even begin to entertain the notion of a peaceful resolution or armistice in Afghanistan without bringing them to the table. It would be like having tried to discuss post war Germany without bringing the Soviets into the discussion

That depends widely on what region you are in. Wardak is noted for its religious conservatism (I've yet to see an un-burqua'd woman), yet the Taliban is still largely unpopular here. Sure, there are a few towns that are known to harbor bad guys, but every country has to have a Detroit.

I'll say this though, the Afghan National Army and National Police are eons beyond the Iraqi Security Forces. You can tell that these guys are born fighters.




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