fair.png
Friday July 30th, 2021 6:44PM

Afghan president names council for peace deal with Taliban

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's president has appointed a council for national reconciliation, which will have final say on whether the government will sign a peace deal with the Taliban after what are expected to be protracted and uncertain negotiations with the insurgents.

The negotiations were envisaged under a U.S.-Taliban peace agreement signed in February as intra-Afghan talks to decide the war-torn country’s future. However, their start has been hampered by a series of delays that have frustrated Washington. Some had expected the negotiations to begin earlier this month.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree late Saturday establishing the 46-member council, led by his former rival in last year’s presidential election, Abdullah Abdullah, who is now in the government.

The council is separate from a 21-member negotiating team, which Ghani appointed in March and which is expected to travel to the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, for intra-Afghan talks.

The council will have the final say and will ultimately decide on the points that the negotiating team takes up with the Taliban.

Abdullah's appointment to head the reconciliation efforts followed a power-sharing deal he signed in May with Ghani to end the political deadlock after last year's election — a vote in which Abdullah had also declared himself a winner.

The High Council for National Reconciliation is made up of an array of Afghan political figures, including current and former officials, and nine women representatives, one of whom was named Abdullah’s deputy. Ghani also appointed former President Hamid Karzai to the council but his predecessor rejected the appointment in a statement Sunday, saying he declines to be part of any government structure.

Also on the council are mujahedeen and jihadi leaders who fought against the Soviet Union in the 1980s but who were also involved in a Afghanistan’s brutal civil war that followed their takeover in 1992 that left 50,000, mostly civilians, dead in Kabul. Among them is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who signed a peace deal with Ghani in 2016 but previously was declared a terrorist by the U.S.

The council also includes Abdur Rasool Sayyaf, who was the inspiration for the Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. During the 1992-1996 civil war, Sayyaf’s fighters killed thousands of minority Shiite Muslims led by a rival warlord.

However, the establishment of the council may not sit well with the Taliban, who have appointed just one 20-member negotiating team that has the authority to make final decisions. The Taliban team answers only to the insurgents' leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhunzada.

There are also other obstacles in the way of the negotiations. The Afghan government has reversed a decision to release the last 320 Taliban prisoners it is holding until the insurgents free more captured soldiers.

The U.S.-Taliban deal called on the Taliban to free 1,000 government and military personnel they hold captive while the government was to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners, in an exchange meant as a goodwill gesture ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations.

The government appears adamant to secure freedom for the soldiers. Javid Faisal, spokesman for the National Security Advisor’s office, tweeted there are no changes to the plan.

“The Taliban will have to release our commandos held by them before the government resumes the release of the remaining 320 Taliban prisoners,” he said.

The U.S.-Taliban deal is aimed at ending America's war in Afghanistan — a conflict that began shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks and toppled the Taliban regime, which had harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

U.S. troops have already started leaving Afghanistan, and by November, fewer than 5,000 troops are expected to still be in the country. That’s down from nearly 13,000 when the U.S.-Taliban agreement was signed Feb. 29.

Under the agreement, the withdrawal of U.S. troops does not hinge on the success of intra-Afghan talks but on commitments made by the Taliban to combat terrorist groups and ensure Afghanistan is not used as a staging ground for attacks on the U.S. and its allies.

Since signing the agreement, the Taliban have held to a promise not to attack U.S. and NATO troops, but have carried out regular attacks on Afghan security forces. The government wants an immediate cease-fire, while the Taliban have said the terms should be agreed in the negotiations.

Attacks, however, have continued unabated, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.

On Friday, roadside bombs struck vehicles carrying civilians in separate attacks in southern Afghanistan, killing 14 people, including three children. No one has so far claimed responsibility for those bombings.

Earlier last week, attacks — including a Taliban truck bombing in northern Balkh province that targeted a commando base for Afghan forces — left at least 17 people dead and scores more wounded.

___

Associated Press writer Kathy Gannon in Islamabad contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Montenegro votes in tense election testing long-ruling party
Montenegrins are voting in a tense election that is pitting the long-ruling pro-Western party against the opposition seeking closer ties with Serbia and Russia
5:07AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Afghan president names council for peace deal with Taliban
Afghanistan’s president has appointed a council for national reconciliation, which will have final say on whether the government will sign a peace deal with the Taliban after what are expected to be protracted and uncertain negotiations with the insurgents
4:41AM ( 1 hour ago )
India records highest daily increase in virus cases globally
India has registered a record new 78,761 coronavirus cases, the highest single-day spike in the world since the pandemic began, just as the government began easing restrictions to help the battered economy
3:38AM ( 2 hours ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Home smashed: For one family, Hurricane Laura the 3rd strike
Families in coastal Louisiana are sifting through their destroyed homes and taking stock of their options after Hurricane Laura ripped through the area
1:02AM ( 4 hours ago )
Trump supporters, counter-protesters clash in Portland
Fights broke out in downtown Portland as a caravan of supporters of President Donald Trump drove through the city, clashing with counter-protesters
11:43PM ( 5 hours ago )
Caravan of Trump supporters rallies in Oregon's biggest city
A caravan of supporters of President Donald Trump has driven into downtown Portland to show their support of him in a part of the city that has been the site of nightly protests for three months since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis
11:25PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP National News
'7 bullets, 7 days': Protesters march for Blake in Kenosha
With chants of “No justice, no peace!”
10:41PM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: S. Korea sees 299 new cases as virus spikes
South Korea has reported 299 new cases of the coronavirus as officials placed limits on dining at restaurants and closed fitness centers and after-school academies in the greater capital area to slow the spread of the disease
9:34PM ( 8 hours ago )
California moves to consider reparations for slavery
California lawmakers are setting up a task force to study and make recommendations for reparations to African Americans, particularly the descendants of slaves, as the nation struggles again with civil rights and unrest following the latest shooting of a Black man by police
8:44PM ( 8 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
'How dare we not vote?' Black voters organize after DC march
Race in America is front and center during a pandemic that's disproportionately affected Black Americans
6:39PM ( 11 hours ago )
Trump's intel chief ends election security briefings to Hill
The Trump administration has ended all in-person election security briefings to Congress just weeks before Americans cast their ballots for president
6:37PM ( 11 hours ago )
Trump administration ends election security briefings
The Trump administration has ended all election security briefings to Congress just weeks before Americans cast their ballots for president
5:11PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: U of Alabama infections since return top 1,000
The University of Alabama is reporting that an additional 481 students have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to more than 1,000 infections since students returned to campus for the fall
9:21PM ( 1 day ago )
Health experts decry Trump's shunning of virus rules
Public health officials are expressing concern about the largely mask-free, socially un-distanced Republican convention event that President Donald Trump held on the White House lawn
8:44PM ( 1 day ago )
Biden, Harris prepare to travel more as campaign heats up
After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump
7:02PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Montenegro votes in tense election testing long-ruling party
Montenegrins are voting in a tense election that is pitting the long-ruling pro-Western party against the opposition seeking closer ties with Serbia and Russia
5:07AM ( 35 minutes ago )
India records highest daily increase in virus cases globally
India has registered a record new 78,761 coronavirus cases, the highest single-day spike in the world since the pandemic began, just as the government began easing restrictions to help the battered economy
3:38AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Global coronavirus cases top 25 million
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases globally has topped 25 million
3:11AM ( 2 hours ago )
After deciding to stay, Lakers could be in bubble a while
There was a point this week when LeBron James and the Lakers weren’t sure they would remain in the bubble
2:55AM ( 2 hours ago )
What happens when pandemic locks down a globe-trotting pope?
During the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis has been deprived of the crowds, foreign travel and visits to poor neighborhoods that have so defined his papacy
2:42AM ( 3 hours ago )