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Afghan Reconciliation – Mapping Multiple Tracks

Published May 11, 2019
Updated Apr 19, 2020

Mapping Afghan Reconciliation with multiple tracks each designed to reach the ultimate objective of peace and stability in the country wracked by almost four decades of civil war.

These being the (1) Negotiations by the United States with the Taliban Council in Doha Qatar (2) Talks organised by Russia (3) Negotiations, Talks and Support by regional countries (4) Intra Afghan talks.

The last named remain the principal track which can result in a final agreement while the first three are mainly supporting the overall objective.

The most positive description of status of talks would be a work in progress.

Developments in each of the Tracks are being mapped separately with a brief introduction-

US – Taliban Negotiations

Reconciliation and reintegration of anti government forces mainly the Taliban was set as a key objective way back in the London Conference on 28 January 2010.  Now nine years later the process of engaging with Taliban representatives have formally commenced with five rounds of talks held by the US Special Envoy for Negotiations with the Taliban Mr Zalmay Khalilzad with representatives of the group in Doha, Qatar.

There have been four objectives of the talks between the United States and the Taliban – Taliban’s suturing of ties with groups designated as terrorists by the United States mainly the al Qaeda, meeting demand of U.S. military withdrawal by the Taliban, a cease-fire in Afghanistan, and an intra-Afghan dialogue. Ambassador Khalilzad has been coordinating these talks with Afghan leaders as well as major regional stakeholders including Russia, China and Pakistan.

See the Mapping of this Trend below-

Week-Long US-Taliban Talks End Without Breakthrough

The Taliban and the United States on Thursday concluded week long negotiations in Qatar but reported no significant progress on peace efforts in Afghanistan.

Taliban Reject US, Afghan Demands for Cease-Fire

The Afghan Taliban, for their part, responded harshly to demands for a cease-fire, saying the United States should end the use of force instead.

US, Taliban See ‘No Reason’ to Slow Down Afghan Peace Talks

The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has set off on another regional trip that will also take him to Qatar for a new round of negotiations with the Taliban

US, Taliban Signal Afghan Peace Talks Intact Despite Offensive’

American and Taliban officials have indicated their months-long peace dialogue remains on track, despite the intensification of hostilities in Afghanistan- Ayaz Gul|- Apr 15, 2019

Taliban Say UN Temporarily Lifts Sanctions On Members Of Negotiating Team

The report could not independently be confirmed, and neither the UN nor permanent members of the Security Council have commented on the report.

US-Led Afghan Peace Effort Gains Momentum

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has established a new leadership council comprising government officials, opposition politicians and civil society representatives- Ayaz Gul|

U.S. Envoy Plays Down Tensions With Kabul, Hopes For Peace This Year– Zalmay Khalilzad said there was a “chance and readiness for peace,.” after holding several rounds of peace talks with the militant group in Qatar. RFE/RL Report|  

Mogherini In Kabul: EU Supports ‘Afghan-Led’ Peace Process

She made the remarks two weeks after the latest round of negotiations between the United States and the Taliban ended in Qatar

U.S. Discuss Afghanistan With Russia, China, EU Officials

They underscored their respect for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, as well as Afghanistan’s right to make its own political, security, and economic decisions- RFE/RL Report

UN: Afghan Peace Talks Offer Glimmer of Hope

A report to the U.N. Human Rights Council says nascent peace talks in Afghanistan offer a glimmer of hope to a country that has been at war for decades- Lisa Schlein

Taliban Hopeful On Possible Agreement On U.S. Afghanistan Pullout

A spokesman for the Afghan Taliban has said the group is close to reaching an agreement with the United States on the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.- RFE/RL Report  Feb 27, 2019

Taliban Extol Trump’s Positive Gestures as Helpful for Peace TalksThe Taliban is lauding U.S. President Donald Trump for recognizing the insurgent group as “the other side” in the prolonged U.S.-led Afghan war. Ayaz Gul|   Feb 17, 2019

China Calls for ‘Responsible’ US Withdrawal from Afghanistan

China advised US against staging abrupt troop withdrawal from Afghanistan for collective international efforts to help initiate peace process- Ayaz Gul

Talks organised by Russia

Apart from the US Taliban talks, Russia had taken a major initiative launching two rounds of talks in Moscow under the Track 1.5/2 formats in which the Taliban Doha Council representatives first met a number of regional interlocutors and later Afghan civil society leaders including the former President Hamid Karzai. There is a degree of coordination with the United States on this engagement.

U.S., Russia, China Call For ‘Inclusive Afghan-Led’ Peace Process

“The three sides call for an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as part of the overall peace process,” a statement said on April 26.

Taliban Insists On Foreign Troop Withdrawal At Moscow Talks

Taliban on February 6 claimed that Washington agreed during a recent round of talks in Doha to withdraw half its ground troops by the end of April — saying that the process had begun.- RFE/RL Report  Feb 7, 2019

Explainer: Why There Are Two Competing Tracks For Afghan Peace

As the prospect of a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan is closer than it has ever been, the peace process with the Taliban could be derailed by competing agendas- Frud Bezhan|   Feb 7, 2019

Taliban To Join Moscow Talks Without Afghan Government Officials

Taliban calls “intra-Afghan” talks in Moscow designed to bring together prominent Afghan figures, including former President Hamid Karzai- RFE/RL Report|   Feb 5, 2019

Who Is Taliban’s New Chief Negotiator?

Taliban leadership announced Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar new chief negotiator- Ayesha Tanzeem

Russia Hails Reported US Troop Reduction Plan in Afghanistan

Russia hailed U.S. plans to pull some troops from Afghanistan step in right direction but doubted Washington intentions- Ayaz Gul

Taliban Engagement with Other Stake Holders

Taliban have engaged with the leadership in Iran, travelling to Tehran. Iran has encouraged the development and possibly strongly supporting the Taliban demand for the US military withdrawal from the country. Iran has kept the Afghan government in picture.

Pakistan has not formally engaged with the Taliban as the Afghan government raised objections claiming interference in internal affairs of the country. Never the less Pakistan has supported the process – an important move being the release of Taliban Deputy Commander Mullah Barader.

Other countries such as Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as China have been engaging with the Taliban from time to time with a view to influence them to join the mainstream albeit with their own national interest being in tandem.

U.S. Welcomes Indian Support to Afghan Peace Process

U.S. Embassy Statement on the Visit of U.S. Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad welcomes Indian commitment to Afghanistan

Afghanistan Recalls Envoy In Row Over Pakistan PM’s ‘Irresponsible’ Remarks

Kabul was angered by statements made by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, in which he suggested that Afghanistan should set up an interim government.

Pakistan PM: Afghan Peace Within Reach

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said Friday that peace in Afghanistan is “around the corner,” citing ongoing negotiations between the United States and Taliban insurgents- Ayaz Gul

Afghanistan Protests Pakistan Invitation To Taliban

Afghanistan has expressed concerns to the UN Security Council about a planned visit by Taliban negotiators to Pakistan- RFE/RL Report|   Feb 17, 2019

Afghanistan’s Ghani Thanks Pakistan For Help With Taliban Talks

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani thanked Pakistan for helping advancing peace talks with Taliban amid continuing diplomatic efforts- RFE/RL Report|   Jan 18, 2019

Turkey To Host Afghanistan, Pakistan For Taliban Peace Talks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to host leaders of Afghan Taliban, Pakistan, Afghanistan trilateral meeting to end Afghan Taliban’s 17-year insurgency- RFE/RL Report|   Jan 6, 2019

Taliban Holds Talks In Tehran On Ending Afghan War– Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, Taliban delegation visited Tehran for talks with senior Iranian official on efforts to end Afghanistan’s 17-year-long war.- RFE/RL Report|   Jan 2, 2019

Tehran Held Talks With Afghan Taliban, Say Iranian Media

Iranian media quoted top Iranian security official of holding talks with Afghan Taliban with knowledge of Afghan government,- RFE/RL Report|   Dec 27, 2018

India in Afghanistan Sustained Commitment and Working with Partners Way Ahead

Post 2019 Afghanistan need not be a redux of 1989 when the Soviet Union pulled out of the country which led to occupation of Kabul by the Taliban seven years later in 1996- Rahul Bhonsle

Pakistan Briefs China on Afghan Peace Initiative

Pakistan fresh round of discussions with China on evolving political dynamics in amid reports of United States plans to reduce its military presence in Afghanistan- Ayaz Gul

Pakistan Led, United States Owned Talks With Taliban

Pakistan seems to be assuming a lead role in talks with the Taliban and is seen coordinating talks while the US is providing an overall umbrella – S R Research|   Dec 31, 2018

Intra Afghan Talks

On the Intra-Afghan talks front two developments are important – talks by a Reconciliation team of 250 civil society leaders to talk with the Taliban and holding of the Loya Jirga planned on 23 April. These moves are designed to build consensus on intra-Afghan talks and break the Taliban’s resistance to engage directly with Kabul stating that the government is not legitimate and is a prop of the United States.

Loya Jirga

Afghan Women Activists Fear Return Of Taliban-Era Repressions

If the Taliban gets a role in the Afghan government as part of a peace deal, as Khorsand expects, she fears a floodgate will be opened for resurgent “radical Islamists” in Herat.

 Violence Continues In Afghanistan After Loya Jirga Urges Truce

The attacks came after a Loya Jirga council convened by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ended with a demand for an immediate cease-fire.

 Afghanistan Opens Loya Jirga To Discuss Peace Talks

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has opened a four-day Loya Jirga with more than 3,200 delegates seeking to agree on a common approach to peace talks with the Taliban.

Abdullah Says Won’t Attend Afghanistan’s Planned Peace Loya Jirga

Abdullah said that the Stability and Partnership electoral ticket he is leading had “not been involved in any consultation”- RFE/RL Report|   Apr 16, 2019

Taliban not to participate in next Peace Jirga, group spokesman tells MNA

 In an interview with Mehr News Agency, Taliban spokesman Zabihollah Mujahid said group will not take part in Afghanistan’s National Consultative Peace Jirga (NCPJ).

Qatar Reconciliation Talks

Pompeo Tells Afghan President Qatar Talks With Taliban Best Chance For Peace

 U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to express disappointment over the postponement of talks with the Taliban

Afghan Peace Talks Suspended Amid Conflict Over Delegates

Disputes over the size of delegations have roiled critical peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, with new talks in Qatar now suspended

 Afghanistan To Send 250 Delegates To Taliban Meeting In Qatar

 Taliban reminded the government that the organizers have made it clear to the delegates that they are participating in the talks as private individuals

Afghanistan To Send Delegates To ‘Exchange Views’ With Taliban In Qatar

Afghanistan will send a government delegation for talks with the Taliban in Qatar, in a potential breakthrough in efforts to end the nearly 18-year war

Left Out: Afghanistan Watches Its Own Peace Process From The Sidelines

When the United States’ special representative for Afghan reconciliation arrived in Kabulthe country’s national-unity government was in disarray.- Frud Bezhan

What An ‘Afghan-Led, Afghan-Owned’ Peace Process Might Look Like

Afghan-Led, Afghan-Owned’ talks in Qatar with Taliban representatives, U.S. special envoy on Afghanistan, agreement reached on framework peace process