Taliban, Afghan opposition hold talks in Moscow irking Kabul

Leroy Wright
February 6, 2019

There are now about 11,000 USA troops in Afghanistan, where the Western-backed central government has struggled to fend off a resurgent Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in 2014.

He also noted that representatives of the republic's government plan to meet with Russian Ambassador to Kabul Alexander Mantytsky on Tuesday. But he said that if the Moscow meeting creates "an opening for real peace talks, it would still be a step forward".

"The Islamic Emirate is committed to eliminating all those evil customs and traditions that violate women's rights and do not comply with Islamic principles", he said, using the name the Taliban calls itself.

"It is conflicted. We want an Islamic constitution", he said, adding that the new charter would be drafted by Islamic scholars.

Those efforts culminated in six days of talks between the United States and the Taliban in January where both sides touted "progress" - stoking Afghan fears that America could cut a deal to withdraw its troops before a lasting peace with Kabul is reached.

President Ashraf Ghani is being pushed to the sidelines as the Taliban ignores his overtures for peace and negotiates instead with his friends, and enemies, over the future of Afghanistan.

This has presented an opportunity for Ghani's rivals to undermine his leadership ahead of presidential elections slated for July, analysts say.

Still, Fawzia Koofi, a lawmaker and women's rights activist, said her participation in the talks was a good first step, even though she was one of only two women among the more than 20 Afghan figures who traveled from Kabul to Russian Federation.

"Both the United States and the Afghan domestic political opposition are giving the Taliban what they always wanted: Talks with the USA and with Afghan political elite minus engagement with the Afghan government", Shuja, the analyst said.

There, U.S. Special Forces are training Afghan forces - it's a move that the military considers an important part of any possible endgame in the war in Afghanistan.

It was based on a commitment to withdraw U.S. forces from the country, and a guarantee by the Taliban not to allow global jihadist groups to use Afghanistan as a base in the future.

Seven passengers killed when train derails in eastern India
Trivedi, said around 10-15 people were injured in the accident and they were immediately provided with first aid. The Railways has issued helpline numbers - Sonpur 06158221645, Hajipur 06224272230 and Barauni 06279232222.

Such a meeting between the Taliban and Afghan politicians - including Karzai, who was appointed by the U.S. - is nearly unheard of.

"It will also help the political factions including the Taliban take part in the process", Noor said.

Two women attended the roundtable conference.

Afghan women negotiated face-to-face with Taliban members, whose regime severely curtailed women's freedoms, such as barring them from working and going to school.

Fawzia Koofi, one of two women invited to Moscow, said the Islamist militants would "have to adapt to a modern Afghanistan".

"I have the authorities of the capabilities that I need from the USA and the coalition standpoint to work with our Afghan partners. So therefore I hope that they listen to the people of Afghanistan", she said.

"It is therefore required that these baseless sanctions and reward lists, which are used as a pressure tool for their interests, should be finished so that representatives of the Islamic Emirate are able to participate in peace talks in different places without any hurdle", he said.

"We told them how far we have come and that we will not go back, we will not reverse", Koofi said.

Atmar, a former communist, said in a statement that the Afghan nonstate actors will try to make future such meetings more inclusive and involve the Government as well.

"I think all sides are ready for a compromise".

But images of Karzai and other powerful leaders attending prayer lead by a Taliban figure and dining with the militants evoked anger in Afghanistan.

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