An unprecedented round of Qatar-based peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban scheduled to start Friday was reportedly “postponed indefinitely” on Thursday over the narco-jihadis’ objections to size of the Kabul delegation.
Via Twitter on Thursday, Sultan Barakat, director of Qatar’s Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies, noted, “This is unfortunately necessary to further build consensus as to who should participate in the conference.”
“Clearly, the moment is not yet right,” he added.
1/4 It is with regret that the #IntraAfghan Conference for Peace organized by @CHS_Doha, which was due to take place 20-21 April, is postponed. This is unfortunately necessary to further build consensus as to who should participate in the conference #AfghanPeaceProcess
— Sultan Barakat (@BARAKAT_Sultan) April 18, 2019
Referring to Barakat, the Associated Press (AP) notes:
The senior official said negotiations went awry after President Ashraf Ghani opposed a list of participants announced by Barakat’s organization. A list of 243 people was announced by Qatar on Thursday.
That list differed from Ghani’s list of 250 people, which included many more women, according to a senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Although the Taliban did not immediately comment on the announcement, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the group, questioned that size of the Kabul delegation on Wednesday, which included political figures, warlords, civil society activists, women, parliamentarians, youth representatives, officials, and local elders.
Mujahid appeared to mock the list in a statement, saying:
The creators of Kabul list must realize that this is an orderly and prearranged conference in a far-away Khaleeji country and not an invitation to some wedding or other party at a hotel in Kabul. … We must clarify that the hosts of this conference have explained in both written and verbal form that no one will be representing the Kabul administration in this conference. If any participant is affiliated with the Kabul administration as was the case in the Moscow conference, they shall partake in a personal capacity and express their own personal views as no one is allowed to represent the Kabul administration.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani described the Kabul delegation on Tuesday as representatives of “the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” which the Taliban considers a U.S. “puppet.”
Those comments angered the terrorist group, Gandhara, a component of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) points out.
“Despite last-minute diplomatic efforts to save the conference after disagreements over the list surfaced, the organizer said late on Thursday that the event, already delayed a couple of times, was now postponed with no future date set,” the New York Times notes.
The intra-Afghan talks were expected to be a significant step towards achieving the primary goal of U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy to end the more than 17-year-old war — the negotiated reconciliation between the Taliban and Kabul, a move that could grant the terrorist group the opportunity to return to power.
Taliban terrorists, who have stepped up its fight to establish an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan amid the peace talks with the Trump administration, still consider themselves representatives of the only legitimate government in the country even after the U.S. military removed its regime in late 2001.
Under Trump, the U.S. has intensified efforts to end the war, raging since October 2001.
Taliban terrorists’ refusal to allow Kabul to participate in the intensified peace-seeking efforts by the Trump administration has surfaced as the primary point of contention between negotiators.
The narco-jihadi group has canceled at least one other round of talks over the proposed inclusion of Afghan government officials.
So far, the U.S. and the Taliban have agreed on a draft proposal — the withdrawal of foreign forces in exchange for counterterrorism assurances from the terrorist group.