Global Insights: Despite Karzai’s Qatar Visit, Afghan Peace Still a Distant Dream

Global Insights: Despite Karzai’s Qatar Visit, Afghan Peace Still a Distant Dream

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai was in Qatar this weekend to talk with the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and other officials about establishing an office of the Afghan Taliban insurgents in Doha. Proposals for such an office, designed to create conditions favorable for peace talks, have been under discussion for more than a year. But Karzai is seeking further safeguards to prevent the Taliban from using the office as a propaganda front or mobilization center. In addition, Karzai has insisted that the insurgents must recognize his government, among other preconditions for entering talks.

For their part, members of the Afghan Taliban have so far refused to meet with Karzai officially or talk directly with his government. Instead, they insist on negotiating with NATO regarding a peace agreement, rather than what they call the alliance’s “puppet” government in Kabul. But the most recent iteration of intermittent talks between Taliban and U.S. representatives that took place last year petered out without delivering any results.

"The position of the Afghan government for the Taliban to open an office in Qatar is very clear,” Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai said in commenting on Karzai’s visit. “They should stop their relations with al-Qaida and terrorists and show their readiness for direct negotiations with the Afghan government."

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