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U.S., Taliban talk behind closed doors in Doha

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KABUL – The closed-door talks between representatives from the United States and the Taliban have entered their second day in Doha, raising questions about the nature and objectives of their discussions. While both parties remain tight-lipped about the contents of the talks, experts suggest that the US is seeking to establish an agreement and engagement with the Taliban to achieve its agendas, while the Taliban may be using the dialogue to solidify its rule.

Among the main issues purportedly discussed are human rights, women’s rights, the right to work, the right to education, and the formation of a comprehensive government. However, critics argue that beneath these topics lie the true interests of both sides. Shukria Barakzai, former ambassador of Afghanistan in Norway, highlights that the interests of the US go beyond just peace in the region and may encompass broader strategic goals.

International relations expert, Barna Salehi, points out that both the US and the Taliban might be seeking an agreement to leverage each other’s influence. For the Taliban, this could mean the continued consolidation of their rule, while the US may be eyeing its interests in Afghanistan and the wider region.

In response to the ongoing talks, the Purple Saturdays Movement, a group of women activists from Ghazni, Balkh, and Takhar provinces, has called on the international community not to lift sanctions imposed on the Taliban, provide funds to the group, or officially recognize them. The movement expresses concerns about external interference in Afghanistan’s affairs and urges the international community to consider alternatives to the current Taliban government.

Additionally, there have been reports that some women aligned with the Taliban held a meeting in Doha recently. However, details about the meeting remain scarce, and its purpose has been questioned by the coalition of Afghan women’s protest movements. Monisa Mubariz, the head of Afghanistan’s powerful women’s movement, suggests that the meeting was primarily focused on consolidating the interests of the Taliban and maintaining its rule.

The duration of the talks remains uncertain, with both parties addressing various issues. The Taliban has reportedly raised concerns about the release of frozen Afghan funds, the lifting of sanctions, and alleged violations of Afghan airspace by the United States. In contrast, the US has prioritized discussions on Afghanistan’s economic stability, humanitarian support for its citizens, and the equitable treatment of all, including women.

As the talks continue behind closed doors, observers remain cautious, wondering if the negotiations will lead to tangible outcomes or merely serve the strategic interests of both parties. The situation remains fluid, and the international community closely watches for any developments that could impact the future of Afghanistan and the broader region.

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