What took so long?
The U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in Doha, Qatar on 29 February specified that peace talks among the Afghan parties to the conflict would begin on 10 March. After months of delay, these intra-Afghan talks are finally set to commence, also in Doha, on 12 September.
A number of factors contributed to the postponement, some arising immediately after the U.S.-Taliban agreement was signed. The Afghan government showed reluctance to implement a provision calling for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, for fear of losing domestic standing as well as its negotiating leverage, while the Taliban re-escalated violence across the country in hopes of maintaining theirs.… Seguir leyendo »
Why was the Ghani-Abdullah agreement needed and what does it achieve?
President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, as well as their respective allies, had been locked in a dispute over the results of Afghanistan’s presidential election held on 28 September 2019. While preliminary numbers suggested that Ghani held a firm lead, official results were delayed for months as electoral bodies conducted recounts and, later, audits. Final results that gave Ghani just over 50 per cent, which would narrowly avoid a run-off against Abdullah, were abruptly announced in February, before the electoral complaints process was completed. Abdullah and his supporters declared the results invalid and announced their intent to establish a “parallel government”.… Seguir leyendo »
In late March, Afghanistan’s minister of public health publicly shared estimates that up to 25 million Afghans could eventually be infected with the novel coronavirus. This is out of a population of about 36 million. The Afghan government has announced a wide range of measures to contain the virus, mirroring global practices of physical distancing. But the weaknesses of health care infrastructure in a country weighed down by poverty and four decades of conflict render Afghanistan especially challenged to manage any major outbreak. Reports of COVID-19-related deaths remain low, but hospitals are straining and are beginning to lose staff: staff are not only falling ill, with some even dying of the disease, but many are simply refusing to work under conditions they deem hazardous.… Seguir leyendo »
What just happened in talks between the U.S. and the Taliban?
A critical milestone in efforts to end the Afghan conflict was reached on 21 February, when Taliban and U.S. representatives issued statements confirming that they had reached an agreement providing for gradual U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, in exchange for Taliban promises to sever ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and to enter intra-Afghan negotiations to resolve the world’s deadliest conflict. The statements explained that the U.S. and Taliban would sign the agreement on 29 February in Doha, Qatar – where negotiations have been conducted for over a year – contingent on the successful completion of a seven-day period of “reduction in violence”, which is meant to begin on 22 February.… Seguir leyendo »