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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Released Taliban officials vow to stay ‘loyal’ to Qatar agreement

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Taliban

Five senior Taliban officials who recently arrived in Doha after being released from the American prison Guantanamo Bay have said they plan to uphold the agreement reached with Qatar involving their stay here.

The men are Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Khairullah Khairkhwa, and Mohammed Nabi Omari.

The officials were released last week in a prisoner swap that sent US solider Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive in Afghanistan for five years, back to the states.

In their first statement, the five men said, as translated from Urdu into English by Gulf Times:

“We want to assure all stakeholders that we are steadfast and loyal to the agreement between the Islamic Emirate and State of Qatar that was made specifically for our release (from Guantanamo Bay).”

The terms of that agreement have not been publicly disclosed by officials from either the US or Qatar, who have only said that the Taliban members would not be allowed to leave here for a year.

Taliban

Sources told the Washington Post that restrictions would include a ban on fundraising and “military incitement,” but declined to comment further. What is clear is that men will enjoy the same freedom of movement around Qatar as their fellow Taliban members.

In a press briefing earlier this week, US State Department spokesman Marie Harf said:

“It’s possible someone will see them on the streets of Qatar. But those types of activities don’t threaten our national security interests, and that’s the standard here about substantially mitigating the threat that they will pose. We’re confident in the Qataris that the restrictions agreed upon, and these individuals will be restricted from activities that pose a threat to our national security.”

Reaction

The prisoner swap has made many in the US nervous, spurring criticism of President Barack Obama for pushing through the swap, for fear that the Taliban members would begin plotting against the Western nation during their time in Qatar.

For now, however, the Taliban, who reunited with fellow members last week on the outskirts of Doha, appear to be keeping a low profile here.

According to the New York Times, members of the Taliban had been residing at the shuttered political office in Dafna up until two months ago. But they have since moved locations, and their official spokesman has not answered his phone in weeks, the newspaper states.

Analysts add that keeping the Taliban in line is as important to Qatar as it is to the US.

Speaking to the NYT, Michael Stephens, deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute in Qatar, said:

“The Qataris know the Americans are very concerned that a bunch of Taliban are not going to be able to run around, and they wouldn’t screw that up.”

Thoughts?

33 COMMENTS

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Doha Hack
Doha Hack
7 years ago

It would be interesting to know precisely what controls the Qatari government are imposing on these guys that ensures the protection of the Doha public…

Lionel_Shaon_
Lionel_Shaon_
7 years ago

“It’s possible someone will see them on the streets of Qatar”. I hope that someone tells them to “Reflect their respect”

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Lionel_Shaon_

Haha, but we all know religion is not about respect of others especially if you are different to them, it is about control and division.

ngourlay
ngourlay
7 years ago

Jihadist loonies are notorious for their trustworthiness. When they retire, they are often employed as babysitters.

Ali
Ali
7 years ago
Reply to  ngourlay

lol and you think Americans are trust worthiness.

Jaded
Jaded
7 years ago
Reply to  Ali

that is one bizarre counterargument

Lelouch
Lelouch
7 years ago

“The prisoner swap has made many in the US nervous, spurring criticism of President Barack Obama for pushing through the swap, for fear that the Taliban members would begin plotting against the Western nation during their time in Qatar.”

of course,

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago

I hope that the police are better at monitoring these guys than they are at enforcing the traffic laws.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
7 years ago

I wonder if their 12 month travel ban will be enforced more reliably than Qatar’s only Guantanamo prisoner, Jaralla al Marri. To quote a recent TIME magazine article:

Despite a 2008 promise in writing, the Qataris let former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Jarallah al-Marri travel to Great Britain, where he was arrested.

On July 27, 2008, the U.S. released Jarallah al Marri, a Qatari citizen who had been detained in Afghanistan in late 2001 and held thereafter at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to State Department cables made public by Wikileaks. As part of the deal to hand him over, the Qataris signed agreements that contained “explicit assurances” that al Marri would not be able to travel outside the country, the leaked documents show.

That agreement was not kept. In early 2009, U.S. counterterrorism officials received word from British authorities that they had arrested al Marri attempting to enter the United Kingdom and were holding him, according to two former officials familiar with the case. The U.S. ambassador to Qatar at the time, Joseph LeBaron, held a meeting with the Qatari Attorney General to complain. The result, according to the leaked cables, “was far from satisfying.”

U.S. officials say this time, the deal with Qatar is more iron clad, in part because of personal assurances given to President Obama by the Emir of Qatar himself. “What is different now,” a senior administration official tells TIME, is that “we have stronger assurances and the personal commitment of the head of state, which is extremely unusual for GTMO or anything else.”

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
7 years ago

So I suppose they’ll be wandering Villagio with an Iced Mocha and having Friday breakfast at Paul?

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago

They are more than welcome in Qatar. What some commenters think here is that these guys are convicted criminals. They are not, and by the way, only one person in Gitmo has been convicted so far. All the others (including these ones) are therefore innocent, unless you think every Afghani is a terrorist until proven innocent, which is more or less the American way of thinking. (Read this http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/USLS-Fact-Sheet-Gitmo-Numbers.pdf).

It is sad to see some “highly-educated” Westerners here have their minds brainwashed by American mainstream media nonsense. Guys, you won’t get much knowledge about the world from Fox News, CNN, NYTimes and the likes. May be you should do some efforts to dig through some Snowden/Wikileaks documents and you will understand that the US is far more evil than all terrorists on Earth.

Finally, here is a must-read if you are an American: Rogue State by William Blum
http://www.amazon.com/Rogue-State-Guide-Worlds-Superpower/dp/1567513743

Hopefully this will help you get a “balanced” and real view of the world!

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

It is not so much concern about these individuals per se as it is a concern at Qatar’s trustworthiness on this issue. As mentioned above, it does have a history of non-compliance with similar agreements that would cause a person question whether Qatari government assurances are worth the paper they are written on.

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

There are more countries in the West than just the USA. Please use the term Westerner with care. As much as I do not agree with many things that are done by the US, I would much rather hang out with Americans than with these 5 people. Perhaps Yacine, given your great regard for these people, you would like to live under their rule for a while. I know people who have and I can assure you they do not hold these people in the same regard. They were all Taliban rank and file at the time and given that the current Taliban management were keen to get them back they must have had some importance. Here is the BBC link for details on this story; http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27752891

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

Yes, it is annoying what a catch-all term “Western” and “Westerner” has become – it seems to be a general term of disapproval to many, with no clear understanding of what it means – as seen by those on this site who have called Japanese “Western”.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago

Western and Westerner refers to the inhabitants of North America, Europe and Oceania. They do share a lot with each other, including an increasingly racist and imperialistic attitude towards the Muslim world. My first comment was a response to some racist comments posted earlier here about Doha not being safe anymore with these people and so on. For some reason I do not see these comments anymore!

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

I would not consider it racist to say that Doha is not safe because of these people. If they said it was not safe because they were Afghan then yes but as these “gentlemen” were picked up on the field of battle or close by then I would consider it a fair non racist accurate comment.I did not read the original comment so I cannot say for sure.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

Even if those were picked up in the battlefield they are not criminals. It is the duty of every Afghani to defend its land from the invaders. I would do the same if someone comes to my country and you would consider me a criminal too.

I can clearly see there is a huge difference between how we see the world, and that was the point of my first comment about “Westerners” being brainwashed by official propaganda distributed through mainstream media.

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Yes, they are criminals if the are picked up the battlefield. There is no debate on that. You would be too, if you, as a non-uniformed member of a non-national force engaged in combat. There is no disagreement on this issue. The only thing wrong with the treatment of these guys is that they were sent to Guantanamo Bay and not automatically given the full treatment under Geneva 3 and 4.

The only difference in the way that we see the world, it seems to me, is that there is weak understanding of the laws of war among some.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago

For an Afghani, the invaders are the criminals, and it does not matter whether they are a uniformed army or a bunch of Black Water mercenaries. At the end of the day, each party defines it the way it suits it. As for international law, it is the last thing I would think about when I see a military Jeep coming to shoot me.

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Agreed, on that, and these Taliban are out of step with the laws of Afghanistan – a signatory to Geneva 1 and 2. Presumably the Afghan government needs to do a better job educating its people on expected behaviours and their obligations under Afghan law? Equally, if you see a military jeep and you engage it, you have forfeited your rights and protections as a non-combatant – that is your choice, just don’t complain about the repercussions later.

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Yacine, I find myself slightly offended by your inference that I have been brainwashed by Western propaganda. You have based your statement on a very short exchange here and it is very subjective. At no point have I suggested that you have been brainwashed by some radicals in a cave in Afghanistan however you seem happy to throw it at me. Not to worry though as we will plough on regardless. I see that you are very passionate about this matter and I can respect that as your right. ……..And here we can see one of the fundamental differences between us – I respect your view on the world and I am happy, even if offended, to have you express it to me. I now look at these men that you so strongly defend and wonder how they would react to you expressing your opinion thus. Add into the mix the possibility that your opinion may differ to theirs and lets pretend that you are a woman for the purposes of the story then how do you think they would respond. I would suggest that a good flogging would be in store for you for daring to disagree with the official line.

You suggest that it is the Afghans duty to defend their land and I would agree completely however I would argue that if I was under Taliban control I would love to see the Americans arrive. I would probably accept Satan himself as an alternative. I would throw in here as well the fact that outside of Kabul, Afghanistan is barely a country. It is more a collection of loosely related tribes with their own customs and ways subjugated by the Taliban so I cannot see them joining the Taliban in droves to fight the Americans. I will admit that many bad things were done since the invasion and they were wrong, each and every one. These events have indeed encouraged some tribes people to join the Taliban but it does not make the Taliban into good people. Many years ago I knew a WWII veteran of the D-Day invasion. He told me that during the push through France they could not wait for the MPs to catch up to take prisoners so sometimes they used to shoot them instead. This was a clear breach of the Geneva convention by these guys but did it make the entire mission wrong? Bad things happen in combat and killing is killing – it is never a good thing to have to take a life.

As I write this post some of your friends buddies are involved in an attack on Karachi airport, a place that I go regularly. Pakistan is an Islamic country (frighteningly so with some of their laws) yet your buddies chose to take the lives of some of the security personnel that I have had the pleasure to meet. These guys are ordinary men with families, practicing Muslims and friendly people who have welcomed me to their country on many occasions. So have I been brainwashed by Western media – I hope not. Do I have any time for the Taliban – certainly not and would I be willing to break the Geneva convention to deal with these people? – Absolutely as they would break it with me.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

First, let’s agree that the Taliban are definitely not the best people one would choose to rule a country. I do agree with you that they have done a lot of harm to their country and the Afghanis, and probably some good too, but, for me, the bad deeds outweigh by far the good ones (like for example eradicating the opium). We will leave it though to Afghanis to decide themselves whether they like them or not.

Now saying that because they are bad the US needs to intervene or that an Afghani would be happy to see Americans (or Satan himself) intervening and “liberating” his country is a typical Western wishful thinking mixed with a pinch of superiority and wrapped in a colonialist mindset. Not only Americans do not intervene to help and liberate people but to apply the diktat of the military-industrial complex (and the oil lobby sometimes), they also intervene to apply their “superior values” rather than the local ones, and this includes, among other things, the way women dress up in public or what kind of official positions they are allowed or not allowed to hold or how much freedom of expression they are allowed to have. No sir, equality between men and women is not something most Afghanis are interested in, as is Western democracy (and you said it yourself, it is a tribal society and people in these societies respect the tribe leader rather than a stranger with a political programme). But what is even worse is thinking that it is America’s role (or NATO or the West in general) to address Afghani issues and to free the people. As far as I know, the French and British colonialists in the 19th and 20th Century all thought the same; that some barbaric populations somewhere in Africa and Asia need to be educated and put on the path of civilization. We know what happened next.

Sorry for being a bit rude sometimes but I am afraid this topic is a very serious one and I think that it is because of people like you that the West does all types of atrocities and gets away with it. People like you are too docile and naive to hold their governments accountable for the mess they are creating, and you even seem to justify that sometimes.

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

I did not say that the American presence there was right.
I also did not say that the locals should be pleased that the US is there, I said that I would be pleased.
The US to decide on women’s rights …did not say that either.
Did not say that it was NATOs job to decide.

Finally, we do hold government accountable. We have elections where members of the government are decided by the people….by the people, of the people, for the people – as best we can.

Our governments are not perfect and we have problems however people can openly voice their opposition and protest. Remember the protests against the Iraq war in the UK? Not always successful but they allow the people to publicly voice concerns. How good are you at holding your government to account?

Win
Win
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Maybe the US should start tracking Yacine and take him for a holiday at Guantanamo !

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Tell me, in your view is Russia Western? How about Bulgaria? Albania? Belarus? The Ukraine? If so, they’ll be surprised to hear that. The residents of Papaua New Guinea might be surprised to hear that they are part of your West. Argentina doesn’t fall in your list, but they might be surprised to hear that. Your comment on racist and imperialist attitudes would clearly include the Chinese and the Burmese, yet you don’t include them.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago

My definition of Western is not a scientific one. It is just about what is common here.
When I was in the UK, I used to say that “oriental” food was my favourite, that is Syrian and Lebanese food. That was confusing for my Chinese and Indian classmates who thought -rightly- that China and India are also “oriental”.

Therefore do not take it as a clear definition but as a common practice of naming the US, Canada, Australia and Western Europe as a group.

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Where is ‘here’ that the usage you describe is common?

Yes, I am familiar with the use of “Western” in much of the MENA region. It often breaks down under questioning and is conveniently vague and ever-moving. If I hear someone say “He looks like a Westerner” again I might scream. I will accept caucasian, but “Westerner” is not an ethnicity. You are right though, there is a core group of countries that will fit in as “Western” in nearly every definition, and many that won’t – like the old Eastern Bloc countries – though they are heavily Caucasian.

PS. – don’t use ‘Oriental’ in Canada – stick with Asian, someone might verbally slap you up the side of the head for using racist language.

Win
Win
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Maybe….Western imperialistic attitude will not be around if muslim leaders are able to control their own people ?

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

Living under the rule of these people is a different story. No one said that the Taliban are the best rulers/managers/leaders of Afghanistan, and neither is Karzai and his clique of crooks. What Afghanistan needs is a good investment in the economy and education of the country, alongside a military and police training. When the country was in dire need of these, what it got instead is an invasion by an army from tens of countries. Now after the invasion, the country is a complete mess, with a very bad economic situation and primitive educational and health infrastructure.

Anon
Anon
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Much of this true; Afghanistan has long been a victim of imperial rivalry and ambition, but your last sentence is missing the ‘elephant in the room’…..faith. Religious belief underpins the whole of Afghan’s tribal society and has, as much as anything else, retarded its development on all levels, especially with its pernicious attitudes to Afghan women. Where is the criticism from the ‘moderate Muslim majority’ of the treatment of Afghan women in the name of Islam? There is next to none, as usual.

AEC
AEC
7 years ago
Reply to  Anon

It’s the Poland of Asia.

Win
Win
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

If you think only Americans and Europeans are worried about the Taliban…you are very wrong.

Jaded
Jaded
7 years ago

Don’t understand what the big deal is about the 1 year travel ban and whether it will be enforced or not. Even if it’s enforced, it’s just one year, and then they’re off. The only relevant question is whether they pose a threat

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