Daily Archives: February 2, 2012

Sovereigns or Unlawful Combatants? the US-Taliban Peace Talks

Taliban negotiators have begun holding preliminary talks with US officials in Qatar on plans for peace negotiations aimed at ending the decade-long war in Afghanistan, a former Taliban official said Sunday.”The actual peace talks have not yet begun — they are in the process of trust-building and obviously this will take some time,” Mawlavi Qalamuddin told AFP.  Qalamuddin, who once led the Taliban’s feared religious police when the hardline Islamists were in power, is now a member of the High Peace Council appointed by the government of President Hamid Karzai.  The Taliban, ousted from power by a US-led invasion in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, announced earlier this month that they planned to set up a political office in Qatar ahead of talks with Washington.  Qalamuddin said the delegation already in the Gulf state included Mohammad Tayeb Agha, a close ally and secretary of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and Shahabuddin Delawar, the Taliban’s former ambassador to Riyadh.  With them were Sher Mohammad Abaas Stanikzai, former deputy foreign minister in the Taliban government, and Aziz-Ul Rahman, a former Taliban diplomat in Dubai, said Qalamuddin.”At the moment the delegation is holding preliminary talks. It’s in its very early phases. You need to build some trust before starting talks.”  One of the trust-building measures demanded by the Taliban is the release of five of its members from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, while Washington wants the insurgents to renounce violence…..In another effort to soothe Karzai’s doubts, a delegation from the Qatar government is expected to visit Kabul to explain its role in the talks, High Peace Council secretary Aminundin Muzaffari told AFP.”We are expecting a delegation from Qatar to come to Kabul to discuss with us the role of Afghans in peace talks and when and how peace talks in Qatar should happen and proceed.”

Excerpt, Sardar Ahmad, Taliban, US negotiators meet in Qatar, Agence France Presse, Jan. 29, 2012