Obama Administration's efforts to kickstart peace talks with the Taliban are underway but the hard-core Islamist group may find it difficult to accept some of the tough conditons laid out by Washington.
On Wednesday, high-ranking Taliban diplomats arrived in Qatar for setting up a political office to facilitate peace negotiations between the U.S and the Afghan government. Taliban surprised everyone when they announced on Jan.3 that they planned to open a political office in Qatar. But the move also signaled a political breakthrough that could put an end to the decade-long war in Afghanistan. As a prelude to the negotiations, the Taliban has demanded the release of activists held at Guantánamo Bay.
On the other hand, Kabul has its own set of problems on hand. President Hamid Karzai's exclusion from the secret talks U.S is said to have had with the Taliban since 2010 appears to have angered the Afghan government. However, U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, recently met with Afghan officials, including President Hamid Karzai, and was able to garner Kabul's support for the setting up of Taliban's representative office in Qatar.
The prospects of establishing the political wing in the Middle-Eastern nation confirms the shift in attitude towards the Taliban and also indicates the beginning of a positive development towards peace making. However, the final outcome of such discussions is quite uncertain considering the number of obstacles and complexities involved.
Karzai is still skeptical about the venue of discussions, considering that the U.S. has substantial politcal sway over the tiny Gulf emirate. The setting up of the representative wing could possibly alienate the Afghan government from being included in the future talks as well as disengage the slightest bit of influence the Afghan government may have over the Taliban.
Karzai had earlier expressed fears that the U.S will strike a deal with the Taliban that could be imposed on his government. Taliban's Doha office would be away from the watchful eye of the President, who is often seen as an untrustworthy leader by the Taliban, but it is hard to determine its impact on peace negotiations.
The U.S government particularly specified that the Taliban must renounce Al-Qaeda and cut all ties with other terrorist groups. The Taliban, which is run by many insurgent groups, maintains a close relationship with Al-Qaeda. Renouncing Al- Qaeda would cause a significant rift among the insurgency groups considering the different degrees of loyalty each group has to Al-Qaeda.
It would be hard for Taliban to accept Afghan constitution, considering the ten-year conflict between the two parties.
Musa Mahmoudi , executive director of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said in an official statement: If we cannot create a proper ground for talks and there is no respect for human rights and the constitution, no political process will lead to success and even if there are some achievements, they will be lost soon.
However, Taliban's adamant refusal to sign ceasefire and accept the stooge Kabul administration slim down the chances of successful peace talks which are seen as the only solution to end the on-going turmoil.
The Taliban, on the other hand, has said it will continue the armed struggle, or jihad, unless all foreign forces are withdrawn from the country. The U.S. recently withdrew about 10,000 soldiers out of the 33,000 troops sent to the country in 2009 as part of efforts to weaken the Taliban militarily. Owing to the increasing resistance to the foreign occupation and the surge in political violence, the Obama administration is said to be withdrawing the remaining troops. However, the administration is said to be holding negotiations with the Afghan government towards maintaining a military presence in the country.
The ongoing challenges faced by the Taliban and the nations rooting for peace talks could possibly result in a failure to reach any political settlement.