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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Taliban to hold talks in Doha over Afghanistan power transition: reports


Diplomats at the Finnish embassy were reportedly evacuated to Qatar on Monday after the Taliban declared control over Kabul.

The Taliban said it is currently holding discussions in Qatar over Afghanistan’s future government, along with other Afghan political parties, an official from the insurgent group told TOLOnews on Monday.

According to the Afghan outlet, the discussions will tap into the structure and name of the new government.

“At this time we face a test because now we are responsible for the security of the people,” said the Taliban’s Political Deputy Leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who described the current moment as “a test” for the group.

This came following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan on Sunday, which concluded with the group’s capture of Kabul. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country to Tajikistan, claiming he was “preventing bloodshed”.

Sources said Taliban leadership member, Amir Khan Mutaqi held talks in Kabul with Head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai and Islamic Party leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

The three officials are reportedly heading to Qatar on Tuesday to meet with the Taliban, who have a political office in the Gulf state.

Furthermore, the Afghan media outlet said the Taliban entered the TOLOnews compound in Kabul on Monday, checked weapons belonging to security staff, collected government-issued weapons and agreed to keep the compound safe.

Qatar joins US-led global calls for safe departure of Afghans amid Kabul airport chaos

“There was no improper treatment of staff members,” said TOLOnews.

Calls for peaceful power transition

The Taliban has made sweeping territorial gains over the past week that ended with a total control of the country’s capital within just hours of entry. The developments created a state of panic among Afghans who rushed to the Hamid Karzai International Airport, many of which attempting to flee the country.

Qatar called for a peaceful transfer of power and a ceasefire across all territories in Afghanistan. The Gulf state also joined over 50 countries in calling for “a safe and orderly departure” for Afghans and foreign nationals.

“Those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility—and accountability—for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order,” read the joint statement, released by the US Department of State.

Bahrain said it will be initiating consultations with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] as the chair of the regional union, where the countries will discuss the latest developments in Afghanistan.

“The council of ministers has tasked the foreign minister to coordinate and consult with the GCC states regarding the developments in Afghanistan, in the framework of Bahraini presidency” the GCC announced.

Qatar is the only Gulf state that commented on the situation in Afghanistan and has played a mediating role in recent years by hosting intra-Afghan talks in its capital Doha. It was also the only country in the GCC region to sign the US State Department’s statement on the transfer of Afghans and foreigners.

Meanwhile, Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat reported employees at the Finnish Embassy in Kabul were evacuated on Monday morning to Doha.

“Thanks to this we were able to safeguard the safety of other Finns,” said Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto at a press conference.

They join hundreds of Afghan interpreters who worked with US troops in the last two decades, as well as foreign nationals who have been evacuated from Afghanistan.

Images showing a C-17 Globemaster II cargo jet carrying some 640 Afghans believed to be headed to Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base surfaced online.

Worries over the Taliban’s seizure have increased over the past week. In particular, Afghan women and girls have been left fearful of their fate due to the group’s previous treatment of females.

When the Taliban ruled in the late 1990’s to 2001, women were not allowed to work and were denied education, in addition to a number of laws restricting their freedom.

However, the Taliban has announced “amnesty” for all in Afghanistan and urged women to join its government.

Member of the Taliban’s Cultural Commission Enamullah Samangani said, on Afghan state television, that “the Islamic Emirate don’t want women to be victims.”

The group said that news reports are only spreading “propaganda” against them and vowed to not carry out attacks against civilians in the country.

Meanwhile Facebook said it banned the Taliban and all content supporting the group from its platforms as it considers it to be a terrorist organisation.

“The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organisation under US law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organisation policies. This means we remove accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban and prohibit praise, support, and representation of them,” a Facebook spokesperson told the BBC on Tuesday.

“We also have a dedicated team of Afghanistan experts, who are native Dari and Pashto speakers and have knowledge of local context, helping to identify and alert us to emerging issues on the platform,” they added.

More than 70,000 civilians have been killed since the beginning of the US invasion and the number of people internally displaced in Afghanistan is now expected to rise.

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