With the escalation of local violence in Afghanistan, a high-level delegation of the Afghan government and Taliban representatives held high-risk negotiations in Doha.
The two sides have met intermittently in the capital of Qatar for several months, but as armed groups have achieved a series of victories on the battlefield, it coincided with the completion of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, and the negotiations lost momentum.
The government delegation is composed of several senior officials, including former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah. According to reports, its purpose is to support the government’s negotiating team to speed up the deadlocked negotiations.
“During the visit, Abdullah Abdullah will discuss important and critical issues with Taliban representatives,” Freton Kwazu, spokesman for the Afghan government delegation, told Al Jazeera.
“The resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan lies in negotiations, and peace can be achieved through dialogue,” he said.
Taliban spokesman Mohamed Naim said that the Taliban “reaffirmed that they are ready for dialogue and negotiation” and added that these issues “can only be resolved through dialogue.”
“But the Afghan government also needs to show the same commitment,” Naim said.
“They need to show correct and sincere determination in negotiations to end these issues.”
No “substantial progress”
Al Jazeera’s Osama bin Javad reported from the Doha negotiation site that the latest round of negotiations is another effort to unite the two sides.
“Both parties said that dialogue is the only way out, and they believe that a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan can only come from the negotiating table-but the language of field operations is completely different,” he said.
“There seems to be no progress, no real tangible progress. The Afghan side insists on the need for a ceasefire to have any real dialogue, and the Taliban insist that they want their version of Sharia law, they want a comprehensive government that includes all aspects of Afghanistan, “He says.
Ben Javad said that special representatives from Europe, the United States and the United Nations also attended the talks, “trying to see if they can push for some kind of peace in Afghanistan after months of major differences.”
He said: “There is little hope that this meeting will propose a specific solution, but at least it can be advanced.”
The Taliban used the final stage of the withdrawal of American and other foreign troops from Afghanistan to launch a series of lightning offensives across the country.
The Afghan army clashed with Taliban militants in Spin Boldak on Friday after they launched an operation to retake a key southern border crossing with Pakistan.
The route is one of the main trade and tourism routes between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and an important source of income for the Kabul government supported by the West.
The fighting on the southern border took place after weeks of fierce fighting across Afghanistan. The Taliban launched multiple offensives and occupied dozens of areas at an alarming rate.
In recent weeks, the organization has occupied border crossings with Iran, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, while also increasing its control of the north.
Al Jazeera reporter Charlotte Baylis reported in Kabul that the armed group now controls more than 50% of the country and that their control is “closer” to the capital.
As the fighting in large areas of Afghanistan intensified, after the Vice President of Afghanistan accused the Pakistani military of “providing close air support to the Taliban in certain areas,” the war of words between Kabul and Islamabad is also heating up.
Pakistan strongly denies this claim, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement stating that the country “takes necessary measures in its territory to protect our own army and people.”
Islamabad has touted regional leaders’ meetings to resolve the escalating violence.
Instead, it announced that it would postpone the summit until after the upcoming Muslim Eid al-Adha, clearing the way for the Doha gathering.
For a long time, the southern border of Afghanistan has been a hot spot in relations with its eastern neighbors.
After the US-led invasion following the September 11, 2001 attack, foreign troops have been stationed in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years.
In recent months, they are basically out of the picture, but people are increasingly worried that without the important air support they provide, the Afghan army will be overwhelmed.
The speed and scale of the Taliban’s attack surprised many people. Analysts said it seemed to be aimed at forcing the government to negotiate the terms of the organization, or it would suffer a complete military defeat.
The Russian Foreign Minister said on Friday that the US mission in Afghanistan “failed.”