By welcoming the opening of historic negotiations between the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government on September 12 in Doha (Qatar), the President of the Afghan High Council for Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah hoped that the protagonists would seize this “Exceptional opportunity” to put in place, during the talks, a humanitarian ceasefire.
→ REPORT. Peace negotiations in Afghanistan, the population resigned
The following weeks, however, saw the fighting grow increasingly fierce. A month and a half after the arrival of the delegations, negotiations are stalled, and the Afghan Ministry of Defense says it is facing the Taliban in 26 of the country’s 34 provinces.
The reports that emerge periodically offer a glimpse of the violence of the clashes. On October 22, around 20 members of the Afghan security forces perished in Nimrôz province. The day before, an ambush in Takhar province claimed the lives of 55 police officers. In Helmand province, tens of thousands of civilians fled the Taliban’s advance on the town of Lashkar Gah.
For many observers, the offensives launched by the Taliban are intended to increase pressure on the Afghan government to negotiate from a position of strength. But some fear that the violence of the clashes will break the fragile dialogue, at a time when negotiations drag and continue to stumble on thorny questions of protocol. In particular, the Taliban insist that the conflicts to emerge during the talks be settled in accordance with Islamic law.
→ MAINTENANCE. “Donald Trump hands over the keys to Afghanistan to the Taliban, but keeps a duplicate”
They also demand that the agreement signed by the United States and the Taliban in February, which provides in particular for the withdrawal of American troops, be recognized as the basis for these negotiations. This agreement paved the way for major prisoner exchanges and current negotiations. A particularly difficult condition for the Afghan government to accept.
“The government fears giving the impression of ratifying this agreement if its negotiators recognize it as a basis for discussion, which in their eyes would give too much legitimacy to the Taliban”, comments Asfandyar Mir, researcher at Stanford University.
→ EXPLANATION. In Afghanistan, government releases Taliban prisoners
A sensitive issue of legitimacy, when the two parties must now talk to each other. “Neither the Afghan government nor the Taliban want to recognize the opposing side”says Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network. “This is why the Taliban are not negotiating with the Afghan government, but with“ a delegation from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan ”, which includes members from outside the government. “ Circumlocutions that do not help the progress of the debates, and all the more so as time is playing in favor of the Taliban whose offensives are damaging the morale of the Afghan troops.
“The Taliban do not seem in any hurry to want to end this war”, confided Sunday a delegate of the government part to Washington Post. “They don’t listen to anyone. All they do is kill time and kill people. “ A statement made on October 25 by 2,000 religious gathered in Kabul calling for the differences to be resolved through negotiation failed to calm the situation. The day before, the spokesperson for the Taliban reaffirmed his vision that anyone linked to the Afghan authorities or their foreign supporters deserved death.
The two parties remain present around the table in Doha for the time being. According to the information site Tolonews, government negotiators and the Taliban have reportedly accepted Qatar’s mediation to try to move forward. However, violence remains daily. On Tuesday, October 27, a violent attack on a police base in the east of the country left at least five dead and 33 injured. That same day, in Kabul, three civilians were killed in a car bomb attack.