The United States has given the Taliban its approval to open a political headquarters in Qatar by the end of the year, so that peace talks between the two groups can begin, UK-based The Times newspaper reports.
If the base is built, it will be the first time the group, officially called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, will receive international recognition as a political party since losing power after the US-led invasion in 2001.
The Times cites Western diplomatic sources to corroborate its report, but the Taliban, Qatar and the United States have thus far refused to comment.
Still, some analysts say Doha makes perfect sense, especially given Qatar’s mediation roles in Lebanon and Sudan.
“This position is the result of Qatar’s ability to negotiate the complex politics of the region in a a way that so far demonstrated its evenhandedness in dealing with various regional and international actors,” Dr. Mehran Kamrava, director of the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University in Qatar, told the Peninsula newspaper.
He added that the reported move “also reflects a realization on the part of the US that Taliban has become a highly influential force in Afghanistan that cannot be simply be defeated militarily.”
According to The Times, Washington insisted that the Taliban’s office be located “outside Pakistan’s ‘sphere of influence.’ “
Additionally, the Taliban would not be allowed to use the office in Qatar to raise funds.
This report just blew my mind. What do you guys think?
Image courtesy of Nick Sutton.