Taliban Leader Mullah Mohammad Omar
Reports in Afghan media indicate that some progress may have been made in the reported talks between the Taliban and the United States.
However, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban's shadow government) has not officially confirmed reports of talks with the U.S. on the future of Afghanistan – except for saying that it had been in contact with U.S. and Canadian officials for exchange of prisoners held by the Taliban and the Taliban fighters held at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Recently, Afghan President Hamid Karzai dropped his opposition to a U.S.-led proposal for setting up a political office for the Taliban in Qatar. The Afghan High Peace Council (HPC), which has been tasked by the Karzai government to hold peace talks with militant groups, has outlined 11 conditions for peace negotiations with the Taliban led by Mullah Omar.
Following are excerpts from a December 28, 2011 media report:
"Sayed Tayeb Agha, Shahabuddin Delawar and Shir Mohammad Stanikzai – Who are Close to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Leader of Afghan Taliban – have Met with U.S. Representatives"
"A former leader of Taliban's Jaish-ul-Muslimin Movement said that some agreements have been made to negotiate with the U.S. Sayed Mohammad Akbar Agha, the former leader of Taliban's Jaish-ul-Muslimin Movement, said that Qatar would be the best place for the Taliban to open an office.
"Some reports say that Sayed Tayeb Agha, Shahabuddin Delawar and Shir Mohammad Stanikzai – who are close to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the leader of Afghan Taliban – have met with U.S. representatives. [The] Taliban have no problems in negotiating with the U.S. ... [Sayed Mohammad Akbar Agha] added.
"Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the first time agreed with [a U.S.-driven proposal for] a Taliban liaison office in Qatar.
"The leader of Taliban's Jaish-ul-Muslimin, Sayed Akbar Agha, says that the Taliban always welcomed a peace initiative. 'The Taliban were optimistic about peace talks from the beginning, but the talks were not held according to their wish,' Sayed Akbar Agha said. While releasing some of the Taliban members are prioritized by [the] Taliban, Mr. Akbar [Agha] says their presence in the negotiations will be necessary."
"The Release of Maulawi Khairkhah, Noorullah Noori, Maulawi Wasiq, Mohammad Nabi Khosti, Haji Wali Mohammad and Mullah Fazlullah, Taliban's Chief of Staff, from Guantanamo Bay Prison will Be Proposed"
"There are possibilities that the release of Maulawi Khairkhah, Noorullah Noori, Maulawi Wasiq, Mohammad Nabi Khosti, Haji Wali Mohammad and Mullah Fazlullah, Taliban's chief of staff, from Guantanamo Bay prison will be proposed.
"'I think that the talks have progressed to some level. The talks that have been held in Qatar would be good to save Afghanistan from problems. Whether the Taliban office is in Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Turkey, I think it would make no difference,' Sayed Akbar Agha said.
"There are some reports that [the] U.S. has been negotiating with [the] Taliban over the past ten months in Doha and Germany.
"Earlier reports had said that Maulawi Khairkhah, Noorullah Noori, Maulawi Wasiq, Mohammad Nabi Khosti, Haji Wali Mohammad and Mullah Fazlullah are reportedly among those to be released from the Guantanamo Bay."
"The Political Parties Warn That the International Community and the Afghan Government must [Not] Give the Taliban Privileges Ahead of Time"
"Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently expressed anger over [the U.S.-led move for] the Taliban office in Qatar because of the fact the ... Afghan government had not been consulted.
"President Karzai even recalled the Afghan ambassador from Doha because the government had no information that [any] talks had been held between the U.S. and the Taliban.
"Meanwhile, some of the Afghan political parties believe that unless the government has a clear definition of the anti-government armed groups, holding talks with them will be of no use.
"The political parties warn that the international community and the Afghan government must [not] give the Taliban privileges ahead of time. 'I think if members of international community or the Afghan government give anti-government armed groups privileges ahead of time, it will not lead to positive results,' Dr. Abullah Abdullah, Head of the Leading Council of the newly formed National Coalition, said.
"The political parties also believe that the U.S. has made efforts to open a Taliban office outside Afghanistan, so that it can lead the Afghan peace talks itself."
Following are excerpts from a December 27, 2011 media report:
"The Office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai Now Says That ... a Taliban Office in Any Islamic Country [e.g. Qatar] would Be Welcomed"
"Afghanistan would welcome a Taliban office in any Islamic country on the condition that the Afghans lead the talks, President Karzai's Office said on Tuesday [December 27, 2011]. The Afghan government had earlier said it could agree to a Taliban office opening in Saudi Arabia or Turkey.
"It is said that the government has changed its stance after the Afghan High Peace Council [which is tasked by the Karzai government to hold peace talks with the Taliban and other armed groups] supported the idea to open a Taliban office in Qatar.
"The High Peace Council recently said it welcomed a Taliban office in any Islamic country. The Taliban office in Qatar turned into a controversial issue recently. The Afghan government had earlier opposed opening a Taliban office in Qatar and even called the Afghan ambassador, Khaled Ahmad Zakari, to Kabul.
"But the Office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai now says that it has been decided that a Taliban office in any Islamic country would be welcomed. 'Recently it has been decided that a Taliban office in any Islamic country would be welcomed, but on the condition that they are opened in consultation with the Afghan government and the High Peace Council,' Hamid Elmi, deputy spokesman of President Karzai, said.
"Meanwhile, the High Peace Council has said that it has sent an 11-article letter to different sources and countries about how peace talks should be held with the Taliban. The Council says one of the main conditions for peace talks that the Afghan government has stressed is that the Taliban must respect the Afghan constitution as well as the achievements gained during the last ten years."
Following are excerpts from a December 29, 2011 media report:
"Seven Taliban Leaders have Taken Their Families to Qatar [Where the Taliban's Political Office is to Be Based]"
"The Afghan High Peace Council on ... [December 29, 2011] announced that seven Taliban leaders have taken their families to Qatar while no official letters from either Qatar or [the] U.S. have been received by the council [regarding peace negotiations with the Taliban or setting up a Taliban political office in Qatar].
"After the [Karzai] government agreed with [a proposal for] a Taliban liaison office in Qatar, the practical process has started in Qatar, The council's international advisor said. The Afghan government has agreed to opening an office for [the] Taliban in Qatar on condition that the negotiation process is led by Afghans.
"The council says that it hasn't received details about the Taliban leaders who have gone to Qatar. 'We have heard through the media about it, but we haven't received any official letter from [the] U.S., Qatar or the Taliban,' Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, international advisor of the Afghan High Peace Council, said. 'We don't know their names and [the names of their] family members. We have heard that six to seven Taliban leaders and their families have gone there.'
"Meanwhile, the High Peace Council has put in some conditions for talks with the Taliban. But it says it hasn't received any response from the Taliban in this regard. 'We set our conditions, we are waiting for Taliban's response,' Mr. Qasimi added.
"The High Peace Council emphasises on Afghan leadership of the negotiation which is well respected by international community."
11 Conditions Outlined for Peace Talks with the Taliban
"The conditions [outlined by the High Peace Council] are:
"- The office should only be used for negotiations
"- The office should be in Afghanistan if the situation suits, if not in one of the Islamic countries preferably in Saudi Arabia or Turkey.
"- First arrangements should be made without intervention of the host country.
"- War should be stopped in Afghanistan before the start of negotiations
"- Armed oppositions should cut all their ties with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks.
"- The achievements of last decade should remain unhurt.
"- Afghan constitution must be respected.
"- The sovereignty of Afghanistan must be recognized.
"- Pakistan must support peace negotiations because the bases of the armed oppositions are there.
"- Elected an[d] powerful representatives from both sides should continue the negotiations.
"- None of the third parties can interfere without consultation with Afghanistan."