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Bagram Attack: Is the Taliban Leadership Divided on Doha Talks?

Published Dec 13, 2019
Updated Feb 05, 2020

The bomb explosion near US Base in Bagram Afghanistan even as Doha talks resumed raises concerns of a division in the Taliban ranks.

A bomb explosion and armed assault near U.S military base in Bagram district of Parwan province in Afghanistan on 11 December, killed 2 civilians and injured 73 others.

Seven Taliban militants reportedly entered the clinic after the explosion spraying the area with bullets.

The Taliban have taken the responsibility of the attack and have claimed that their militants have succeeded to enter in to the U.S military base in Bagram.

The Taliban on the other hand have blamed the United States for launching air strikes in Sangin district of Helmand days prior to the Bagram attack.

“Before the Taliban’s (Bagram airbase) attack, Americans launched airstrikes in Sangin (district of Helmand) and I wished neither had happened so the talks would continue normally” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander, “but it didn’t have a big enough effect to stop them.”

Both sides are working on a cease fire in the fresh round of talks ongoing in Doha, Qatar, however the Taliban is keen to have a cease fire only with the US forces implying curtailment of air strikes on their forces out in the field.

The anti-government forces have refused to agree to a general cease fire which includes the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF). The aim appears to be to nullify the impact of the U.S. led air and drone strikes while leaving the Taliban free to strike at government forces.

The Bagram attack also raises questions of unity in the Taliban leadership, that the same was carried out despite the negative impact on the peace process as the last time U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly cancelled talks after a US soldier was killed by the Taliban even as the talks had reached a degree of finality may also imply that the hard liners not in sync with the moderates having talks in Doha thus the continuance of attacks could be to scuttle the peace talks.

As per the Tolonews, the Taliban is divided into five blocks quoting Sayed Ishaq Gailani, founder and chairman of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan. “Taliban that are working for Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzada, Mullah Omar’s group, Mullah Mansour’s group, Haqqani Network and the Taliban in Qatar, which is making the “real decisions,” Gailani is quoted by the Tolonews.

“There is a possibility of intellectual differences among them (the Taliban), and yesterday’s attack was not a good move,” he said.

The talks resumed in Doha have now been temporarily suspended for a brief review by the two sides to discuss outcomes with their higher leadership.