At Intra-Afghan Talks In Qatar, Afghan Taliban Demand A 'Pure Islamic Government' In Afghanistan And Release Of 8,000 Taliban Prisoners

September 14, 2020

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On September 12, 2020, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted a picture of himself with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund, the deputy emir of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban organization) in Doha, Qatar, on the first day of the intra-Afghan talks, which are supposed to reach an agreement on the future of peace in Afghanistan.[1]

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Mullah Baradar in Doha, September 2, 2020

Secretary Pompeo was in Doha for the opening session of the intra-Afghan talks, which began after the Afghan government was pressured by the U.S. to free more than 6,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for a handful of Afghan security personnel released by the Taliban.[2] The Afghan delegation comprises government officials, prominent Afghans, and civil society leaders after the Taliban refused to talk with the elected Afghan government.

While the release of the Taliban prisoners was mandated by the U.S.-Taliban deal signed in Doha on February 29, 2020, the Taliban have refused to agree to a ceasefire with the Afghan security forces. In fact, emboldened by the U.S.-Taliban deal, the Islamic Emirate has continued to hold talks with the U.S. and other countries, thereby gaining diplomatic legitimacy while continuing to fight Afghan security forces.

Mullah Baradar Akhund: "I Urge Both Teams Present In This Gathering To Give Precedence To The Higher Interests Of Our Sacred Religion Of Islam"

Addressing the opening session, Mullah Baradar Akhund, who is also the head of the Islamic Emirate's Political Office in Doha, stated: "I am pleased to be partaking in the inaugural ceremony of intra-Afghan negotiations aimed at ending the forty-year Afghan conflict and establishing an Islamic government following the signing of the historic agreement between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the United States of America."[3]

In the runup to the intra-Afghan talks, the Taliban have stressed that the intra-Afghan talks are meant primarily to facilitate the establishment of a pure Islamic government and release of 7,000-8,000 Taliban prisoners, the Afghan government hopes for a ceasefire.[4] Mullah Baradar Akhund told the delegates: "I urge both teams present in this gathering to give precedence to the higher interests of our sacred religion of Islam and homeland during their deliberations and decisions and not sacrifice this objective for their personal or group interests."[5]

Mullah Baradar Akhund stressed the sort of Afghanistan the jihadi group wants to achieve as a result of the intra-Afghan talks, stating: "We seek an Afghanistan that is independent, sovereign, united, developed and free – an Afghanistan with an Islamic system in which all people of the nation can participate without discrimination and live harmoniously with each other in an atmosphere of brotherhood."[6]

The Taliban Statement: "Intra-Afghan Negotiations Can Only Succeed Once All Parties Set Their Islamic And National Values As A Barometer For Resolving Issues"

On September 13, a day after the opening session, the Islamic Emirate published an official statement that noted: "It is common knowledge that the issue of Afghanistan has two distinct dimensions – one external and the other internal. The external aspect involved the Islamic Emirate conducting successful negotiations with the United States of America where all issues were resolved in eleven rounds of talks and the process concluded with the signing of an agreement [on February 29, 2020 in Doha].

"A key condition of internal aspect involved the exchange of thousands of prisoners as confidence building measure before the launch of intra-Afghan talks. Although the exchange process was delayed and repeatedly disrupted, still it was major progress. Around six thousand prisoners were released from detention centers of both sides – meaning six thousand Afghans families were reunited with their loved ones and bestowed with joy and reassurance."[7]

Regarding the intra-Afghan talks, it observed: "Just as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan views this stage with utmost importance and has tasked a senior and comprehensive delegation for it, it also becomes imperative for all other sides to deal with this sensitive phase in a responsible manner. The Islamic Emirate believes that after the resolution of the external dimension, it is entirely possible for the Afghans to come together and live their future under the shade of a sovereign Islamic government.

"As our people share a common religion, ideals and values, excuses for prolonging the crisis must be avoided. Just as the Islamic Emirate showed its commitment to the principle of dialogue during negotiations with the Americans and displayed that an agreement can even be reached with an occupying enemy through talks, it similarly believes in finding a peaceful solution to issues on a domestic level.

"In our view, intra-Afghan negotiations can only succeed once all parties set their Islamic and national values as a barometer for resolving issues. Since these negotiations are among Afghans, they must be kept pure from all foreign meddling, ideologies and values. Our own religious and national values that are already adopted by our people should not be sacrificed for foreign imported ideas."

The Taliban Statement Before The Talks: "Kabul Regime [Elected Government Of Afghanistan] Has No Legitimacy And Will Never Be Recognized As A Representative Of The People Of Afghanistan"

On September 11, which marks the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks[8] – the Taliban website published an article by Muhammad Jalal, which stated: "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan signed the Doha agreement [on February 29, 2020] to achieve the goals of its struggle – to end the foreign occupation and to establish a pure Islamic system of governance, to preserve national interests of Afghanistan and aspiration of the people. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has adhered to the agreement. As it was agreed that the intra-Afghan talks will begin in the immediate aftermath of the prisoner release process, we are witnessing the intra-Afghan talks taking place in Doha this week.

Qatar hosted the U.S.-Taliban talks and now the intra-Afghan talks[9]

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan's position has been very clear about the composition of intra-Afghan negotiations; the intra-Afghan negotiations, as mentioned in the Doha agreement, shall be between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and other Afghan parties in order resolve the internal matters related the future of Afghanistan. The Kabul regime, pathetically, has started mere propaganda disseminating false and misleading information about the structure of intra-Afghan talks. The regime is trying to depict as if the intra-Afghan talks are between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the so-called [government of the] Republic of Afghanistan.

"In reality, the negotiation team flying from Kabul to Doha is not representative of ordinary Afghans, rather it is a team of Afghans from different groups, parties and other social and political entities of Afghanistan. More importantly, the fake 'Republic' drawn from illegitimate and fraudulent elections under the shadow of foreign occupation, cannot represent the people of Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has constantly made it clear that the Kabul regime has no legitimacy and will never be recognized as a representative of the people..."[10]

Muhammad Jalal further stated: "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has always been committed to inclusive talks with all Afghans, from different walks of life. In a country like Afghanistan with more than 99.7% adhering to the Islamic faith, people want an Islamic government. Islam is the way of life of every Afghan. As per the aspiration of Afghans, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in engaging in the intra-Afghan talks to include every Afghan in the formation of an Islamic system that will provide justice, equality and prosperity to every Afghan in the future. Intra-Afghan talks and the establishment of a real and pure Islamic system will bring peace in which the dignity of every citizen is protected."[11]


[1], September 12, 2020.

[3] (Afghanistan), September 12, 2020.

[4] The Islamic Emirate's Doha-based spokesman Dr. Muhammad Naeem Wardak set a new demand for 7,000-8,000 Taliban prisoners to be freed, as a per a report by dated September 12, 2020.

[5] (Afghanistan), September 12, 2020.

[6] (Afghanistan), September 12, 2020.

[7] (Afghanistan), September 13, 2020.

[8] The Intra-Afghan Talks, preceded by the U.S.-Taliban deal, are being held at a time a UN Security Council report said the Taliban and Al-Qaeda continue to nurture their relationship. MEMRI Daily Brief No. 221 New U.N. Report Reveals Afghan Taliban-Al-Qaeda Alliance – In Contrast To U.S-Taliban Agreement, July 16, 2020.

[9] Qatar, which has supported jihadi groups worldwide, has been hosting the talks. MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1485, Qatar's Role In 9/11 And Hosting Jihadi Commanders; Afghan Taliban's Hideouts Move To Safe Haven Of Doha, November 19, 2019.

[10] (Afghanistan), September 11, 2020.

[11] (Afghanistan), September 11, 2020.

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