The United States recently helped the Taliban open a special political office in Doha, which is the capital of Qatar, to initiate peace talks with the group. However, the talks stalled even before they could take a formally start after the Afghan government raised objections to the Taliban decorating the building with their own flag and nameplates, suggesting they have received some form of international acknowledgment.
The Taliban didn’t address the Afghan government’s concerns after United States Secretary of State John Kerry presumably conveyed the Afghan government’s concerns to the Taliban. The US apparently assured Afghan President Hamid Karzai over the phone that the government’s concerns would be addressed before initiation of dialogue. A preliminary meeting between Taliban representatives and US officials were scheduled for Thursday, but it did not materialize.
The United States is planning to remove most troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and wants to broker a peace deal with the Taliban to restore peace and stability in the country. US officials believe civil war may erupt in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of international troops, and therefore want to bring the Taliban in the mainstream.
US officials also want the Taliban to dissociate from al-Qaida so the Afghan National Army and other security forces can handle them effectively. In fact, it is believed that the real culprit behind the insurgency in Afghanistan is al-Qaida, and therefore if the United States succeeds in taking the Taliban onboard, Afghan security forces could easily defeat al-Qaida militants.
Putting the responsibility to revive the talks on the Taliban’s shoulders, Kerry said in a news conference Saturday that if the Taliban doesn’t revive the peace talks, the political office for them in Doha may be closed. Although the secretary did not elaborate on what kind of steps he was expecting from the Taliban, he presumably expects the Taliban to address the Afghan government’s concerns.
In March last year, the US also tried to initiate peace talks with the Taliban and a political office for them was also opened in Doha, but the talks failed owing to some inexplicable reasons. This time, shortly after Taliban representatives arrived at their office in Doha, they hoisted their flag on the building as a symbol of international recognition.
After a strong protest from Karzai, the Taliban did lower their flag on the building, but didn’t remove it. A plaque bearing the name “Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” was also fixed at the main entrance of the building. The Taliban have now removed it from outside the building, but it remains fixed inside the office. It appears as if the United States wants conditional dialogue with the Taliban, while the latter is not ready for it.
The US is being criticized for initiating dialogue with the Taliban, as many believe the Taliban will never lay down arms and accept the constitution of Afghanistan.