In the light of progress in the negotiations with the Taliban, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday offered the Taliban a ceasefire and release of prisoners in preparation for promoting direct peace talks between the two sides to end the country’s more than 18 years of war.
The Afghan president renewed his offer to allow the Taliban to open offices in the country and provide security for them, stressing the need for direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Ghani criticized the Taliban for “Moscow’s preference for Mecca” as a venue for peace talks, referring to a previous call by the Kabul government for talks with the Taliban in Mecca.
He also criticized the movement’s unwillingness to engage in direct talks with the Afghan government, calling on it to engage directly with the government.
On February 5 and 6, Afghan politicians and representatives of the Taliban held talks in the Russian capital Moscow, amid the absence of any representation of the government, following a continued refusal by the Taliban to participate in any direct round of negotiations.
The movement urged for US withdrawal from the country before any direct meeting with the Kabul government.
Afghanistan has been battling for years between the Taliban on the one hand and government and international forces led by the United States on the other; causing thousands of civilian casualties.
In 2001, Washington led international forces to topple the Taliban regime for harboring Al Qaeda.
Washington and representatives of the Taliban held a six-day round of peace talks in Doha, Qatar, in January.
Another round is expected to be held on February 25.
The US administration had asked Qatar to reactivate its cells, which have been in contact with the Taliban movement since the nineties of the last century for direct negotiations between the movement and the United States.
The information indicates that the Qatari intelligence has motivated some members of the so-called “Doha cell” and some of its Salafi elements to communicate with the Taliban and convince them of the usefulness of negotiating with the United States, especially when Donald Trump came to power and promised during his election campaign to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.
Qatari mediation has been approved by the Taliban leadership and a long and sporadic round of negotiations began in the fall of 2017, three months after the Arab Quartet announced the imposition of a blockade on Qatar.
Sources close to the movement have confirmed that the Taliban acted from the outset as the site of the victor, and those sources pointed to the words of one of the leaders of the movement in one of the rounds of negotiations with the American delegation, “We know that you cannot keep thousands of troops thousands of miles from your country and pay Billions of dollars a year in a failed war, you know very well that you will not win”.
On the American side, sources add that the US administration has been negotiating to withdraw from the country from the start, but the periods and manner of withdrawal were the main part of the negotiating rounds.
There were also conditions for the Taliban to sign any agreement that would include US intervention, The Taliban if the movement decided to move towards Kabul to control it after the completion of the US withdrawal from the country.
It appears that the Taliban received a written American promise on this matter, noting the existence of undeclared items governing the relationship between the Taliban and US forces during the withdrawal period, which will last about eighteen months according to the agreement written between the parties.
It is noteworthy that the item, which witnessed lengthy rounds of negotiations also intervened what is known as the “Doha cell” of the Taliban leadership was the insistence of the delegation of the Taliban to continue military operations during the 18-month retreat period while the US delegation calls for the suspension of these operations starting from the timing of the agreement Until the completion of the withdrawal The Qatari mediation led to a pledge by the Taliban not to target areas left by US forces within a period of time before the withdrawal by two months that the US forces to implement the timetable for withdrawal without delay or procrastination.