Intra-Afghan Peace Talks Begin With Clashes Still Continuing

Taliban negotiators optimistic amid calls for full ceasefire

Intra-Afghan peace talks between negotiators from the Taliban and the Afghan government finally got started in Doha this weekend, with high hopes for deals on power-sharing in the country and how things will be managed after the US troops leave.

Fighting has been ongoing in some parts of Afghanistan even as the talks began, and one of the main topics of early meetings was the possibility of a nationwide ceasefire. Though both sides have resisted ceasefires in the past, now that talks are begun in earnest it is more likely they’ll both accept the idea.

In talking with the press, Taliban negotiators expressed optimism for a deal, and set out their goals for a government “in which the Holy Quran is ruling, the hadith of the messenger is ruling, the Hanafi school is there, and the occupation is over.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the ultimate form of the Afghan state was up to the Afghan people, which suggests an openness to changes to their political system that aren’t US-mandated. That leaves open the possibility of reforms which would lessen tensions among different religious factions within Afghanistan.

Some Afghan negotiators were pushing to preserve women’s rights, and Pompeo also expressed support for that idea. Whether the US will ultimately tolerate a possible move toward religious conservatism remains to be seen.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.