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Friday, January 21, 2022

Afghan delegation heads to Qatar amid Taliban takeover


Afghans across the country are currently living in fear amid the insurgent group’s takeover of Kabul.

An Afghanistan government delegation, including senior official Abdullah Abdullah, are heading to Qatar on Sunday to meet with representatives of the Taliban, Afghan negotiator Fawzi Koofi told Reuters.

A source told the news agency that the Afghan delegation and members of the Taliban will discuss the transition of power as the insurgent group enters Kabul. US officials are also expected to be involved in the meetings, though no further details have been released.

The news came as Taliban fighters stand on the outskirts of the Afghan capital of Kabul after seizing several provincial capitals within a week, raising security concerns for Afghan civilians anxious over the takeover.

“The Afghan people should not worry…there will be no attack on the city and there will be a peaceful transfer of power to the transitional government,” said Afghan Minister of Interior Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal in a recorded speech.

According to Al Jazeera, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani transferred part of his powers to a delegation that is expected to depart to Qatar for talks on Monday.

Reports suggest negotiations between the warring factions are currently underway at the presidential palace in Kabul, with the militants promising not to carry out attacks as the handover is finalised.

Afghan government sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that current negotiations are being mediated by the US and would hand power to academic, Ali Ahmed Jalali, who is expected to be appointed as the head of the transitional government.

The source added that talks also condition that the Head of Taliban’s Political Office Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib are both appointed as Jalali’s deputies.

The latest developments come as the Taliban confirms it has taken control of the Bagram airfield and prison and released all prisoners.

Read also: US, Qatar ‘close to agreement’ on rehousing Afghans as Taliban enters Kabul

Built and run by Americans until 2013, the prison reportedly contains some 5,000 Taliban inmates, all which have been released by the insurgent group.

Hours earlier, the Taliban seized the key eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight. By capturing Jalalabad, the insurgent group also gained control of the road leading to the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

The militants also captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif late on Saturday, forcing Afghan forces to flee the area.

The militants have carried out their advances despite meetings held in Doha on Saturday between Qatar’s Foreign Sheikh Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and Baradar.

During the meeting, the Qatari diplomat “called on the Taliban to de-escalate” and “contribute to efforts aimed at speeding up” the Afghan peace process. However, the calls have seemingly fallen on deaf ears.

On Sunday, the Taliban assured it would be respecting women’s rights and vowed to allow them access to education and work as long as they wear the hijab.

Women and girls’ rights were heavily restricted by the Taliban during its rule from the late 90’s until 2001, making the latest advances an area of concern for many.

“Women will be allowed to leave the house alone without a male guardian,” added a Taliban spokesperson, as quoted by Reuters.

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