What Was Qatari Prime Minister’s Message to Taliban Leader in Kandahar?

Monday, 06/05/2023

Sources said that during his recent meeting with the Taliban leader in Kandahar, Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar, discussed the release of American prisoners, Afghan women, and the fight against ISIS.

The Taliban leader’s response to Al-Thani during the meeting has not been clear yet.

A Qatari official, who is aware of the discussions of the bilateral meeting between the Taliban and Qatar, said on the condition of anonymity, that the meeting with the Taliban leader has been considered highly important.

The exact number of foreign and American hostages in Afghanistan is not known, but American officials have previously said that "several American citizens" are in detention in Afghanistan.

The situation of Afghan women under the Taliban has been highly deteriorating with severe restrictions imposed by the group on Afghan women’s right to work, education, and social life.

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has also carried out deadly attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban has taken power in August 2021, which has left heavy casualties. Most of ISIS' attacks have been focused on the Hazara-Shia community, Sufis, diplomatic missions, and the Taliban forces.

Our sources said that in the meeting between the Prime Minister of Qatar and the leader of the Taliban last month, the two leaders discussed amending the Doha agreement and adding new points to it.

Earlier, it had been reported that the Qatari Prime Minister conveyed a message from the US officials to the Taliban leader.

Based on our source, the Qatari Prime Minister suggested that the issue of women’s rights and the fight against terrorism had to be added to the Doha Agreement. However, in the Doha Agreement, it is stated that "It [the Taliban] will prevent any group or individual from threatening the security of the United States and its allies, will prevent their recruitment, training, and financing, and in accordance with its obligations in this agreement, will not host them." However, there are no details about the proposed counter-terrorism issues that has been discussed with the Taliban leader to be added to the Doha agreement

In the meantime, the Prime Minister of Qatar did not discuss the Taliban recognition with Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, the group’s leader. The Qatari official said that in the meeting with the Taliban leader, the stance of Al-Thani regarding the issue of recognition of the Taliban was very similar to the position of the United States and the international community, which repeatedly said the precondition for recognition of the group is that the Taliban should respect the fundamental rights of women and minorities.

The mood of the meeting between the leader of the Taliban and the Prime Minister of Qatar has been evaluated as positive, and Akhundzada has said that he is open to negotiations with the international community.

The United States has already officially negotiated with the Taliban group in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, at least twice, in which representatives of the US State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the United States International Development Agency were present.

The first meeting between the representatives of the US and the Taliban was held on June 29 and 30, 2022 in Doha, where Thomas West, the US special representative for Afghanistan, expressed concern about the continued activities of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan. In this meeting, Amir Khan Muttaqi, the foreign minister of the Taliban headed the Taliban delegation.

The US officials, including West met, with the Taliban defence minister, Mullah Yaqub Mujahid, on December 7, 2022, in the United Arab Emirates. In the meeting, the two sides discussed financial aid to Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban and the fight against terrorist groups.

Apparently, Al-Thani’s meeting was not the first meeting of the Taliban leader with a foreign delegation. According to reports, he has already met the senior representatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who discussed the establishment of the 40,000-man army based on the advice of the Iranian delegation. On the other hand, it is said that the Taliban leader also regularly meets four senior officers of Pakistan intelligence services.

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