Taliban Make Big Changes Ahead of Negotiations

  • The peace talks were set to begin early this month in Doha, Qatar.
  • In the deal the US troops are supposed to leave the country by mid-2021.
  • Despite the new developments, the Taliban has increased its attacks in the country in recent days.

The Taliban have made significant changes in its leadership ahead of negotiations with Afghan leaders. The group has appointed Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob to head its military wing. The 30 year-old is the son of the Taliban’s most feared founder.  It has also added four other members to the 20-member negotiating team.

The Taliban, who refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), are a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement and military organization in Afghanistan currently waging war (an insurgency, or jihad) within that country. Since 2016, the Taliban’s leader is Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada.

The peace talks were set to begin early this month in Doha, Qatar.  A peace deal, signed in February between the Unites States and the Taliban, gives a way for the Afghan government and the Taliban to start negotiations for the best interest of the country.

The deal also requires the Afghan government is to release 5,000 insurgents. In exchange, 1,000 Afghan soldiers and police captured by the militant group will be freed. The agreement was signed so as to pave the way for US troops to leave the country after the long military engagement.

In the deal the US troops are supposed to leave the country by mid-2021. The US has already began withdrawal of its troops. According to the UN peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, five bases have been closed in the country, and the American troops are now at 8,600, down from 12,000.

The talks between the militant group and the government have delayed because of the political rivalry between the two presidential candidates after last year’s elections. However, the two leaders reached an agreement earlier in the month. The agreement between the two leaders and the release of the prisoners is seen as a major step in the commencement of the talks.

Despite the new developments, the Taliban has increased its attacks in the country in recent days. The spike in the attacks could be a possible hindrance to the peace process that is being pushed by foreign leaders.

Earlier this week, 11 Afghan intelligence agency personnel were killed after the Taliban launched an attack at an intelligence compound in northern Afghanistan. It is alleged that a suicide bomber hit the compound, and was followed by two fighters who opened fire but were later killed.

Zalmay Khalilzad is an Afghan-American diplomat, who has served as the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the State Department since September 2018. He has been involved with US policymakers in the State Department and the Pentagon since the mid-1980s, and he was the highest-ranking Muslim in the George W. Bush administration.

According to the spokesman for the provincial governor, the attack that took place in Aybak, the capital of Samangan province, left 63 people wounded. President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, saying it was a tactical approach by the Taliban militant group ahead of negotiations.

The attack comes just after the Taliban attacked checkpoints in northern Kunduz province, killing 14 Afghan security forces. The Taliban and the government forces have been blaming each other for the numerous attacks in recent days.

Earlier, the Defense Ministry revealed that Afghan soldiers on Friday repelled attacks from the Taliban. The militant groups had attacked army checkpoints in Azra distict in Logar province. In a statement, the ministry said that eight Taliban fighters were killed and four others were injured.

Last week, seven police officers were killed and in two separate attacks in Afghanistan. In one of the attacks, in Southern Kandahar province, three officers were killed and 20 others injured. In the second attack, in Nangarhar province, a landmine blast claimed the lives of four police officers.

The four officers killed in the second attack include a police commander and three of his bodyguards. The Taliban militant group claimed responsibility for both attacks, calling them a “tactical attack.”

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Juliet Norah

I am a freelance journalist is passionate about news. I derive pleasure in informing people about the happenings in the world

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