Taliban Chief Negotiator: Taliban Don’t Aim to Seize Power in Afghanistan

US restates demands that no terrorist groups can operate in Afghanistan

Intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha entered their third day Tuesday, but in many ways, it was the first day. After two days of small meetings and indirect messages, this was the first time full groups of both Afghan government and Taliban negotiator teams were all in the same room, holding major direct sessions on the process.

Taliban officials sought to reassure the government on their intentions, with Abdulhakim Haqqani insisting that the Taliban has no intention of trying to seize power in Afghanistan, and that right now the battle is for seeing Afghanistan inde4pendent from foreign occupation.

That is an important point. After the Soviet occupation, the Soviet-backed government was steadily overrun by the Taliban, and there has been fear throughout the war that as soon as the US left, they would return to power.

And while this was supposed to be about internal talks, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was there to issue demands on behalf of the US. He insisted any deal would need to ensure that there were no terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

That’s a priority for the US, of course, but one already covered in the US-Taliban talks. Why Khalilzad felt the need to bring it up in talks at which the US aren’t meant to be a party is unclear.

While all of this is going on leaders are still trying to get their teams comfortable with the process. This has meant the leaders preaching patience to all involved, and for everyone to be tolerant of differing opinions while people are airing their respective goals for Afghanistan.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.