Taliban and Afghan government negotiators seek accord

Negotiators representing the Afghan government and the Taliban will arrive in Doha today to commence the long-awaited intra-Afghan peace talks,

negotiations

Photo: Sergei Savostyanov/TASS

Negotiators representing the Afghan government and the Taliban will arrive in Doha today to commence the long-awaited intra-Afghan peace talks, which will centre around establishing ceasefire and power-sharing agreements.

The Taliban, which sees the Kabul government as illegitimate and un-Islamic, have stated their opening position as seeking the establishment of an interim government and an Islamic emirate as sine qua non to ending violence. The government rejects the latter demand. Instead, referencing its 2017 peace deal with Hezb-e Islami as a framework, Kabul asserts the Taliban should be incorporated into the current government and security forces.

Current talks will not result in a deal in the short-term as opening positions do not indicate the existence of a zone of possible agreement. However, talks between the two will continue as international pressure mounts, both factions struggle with controlling COVID-19 and both try to gain ground in the mutually-destructive stalemate. In the long-term, it is likely Kabul will concede to key Taliban demands—the US withdrawal from Afghanistan has significantly reduced its negotiating position. As such, it is likely a deal will eventually be drawn along Taliban lines with the possibility of writing a new constitution through a Loya Jirga that incorporates the group.

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