Thread on #Afghanistan II
On Tuesday December 27th, 2011, CNN reported that the government of Afghanistan, then lead by President Hamid Karzai, would "accept the presence of a #Taliban liaison office in #Qatar, but under strict ground rules forbidding foreign intervention in peace talks..."
'Ismail Qassemyar, a member of the Afghan High Peace Council, warned against the United States or other nations trying to strike their own peace deals with the militants.
“We ask our international friends not to hold any kind of talks with the Taliban leaders,” Qassemyar said. “It is an Afghan process, and we want it to be led by Afghans.”'
In October of that same year the Obama Admin had penciled a deal with the Taliban, but it had "collapsed" due to "objections" by President Karzai.
Even though it failed, this was an important moment, as it indicated the desire for talks was there and that Doha, Qatar was the place to have them.
#Qatar is a fascinating country. An extremely wealthy absolute monarchy that adopted a constitution in 2003, this tiny country on a peninsula jutting out into The Gulf has ambitions well beyond its size. Ranking 4th in per capita income (~$138k), foreigners outnumber citizens 5 to 1, it's home to the Al Jazeera network, many American universities have campuses there, and in 2022 it will be the first Arab Islamic country to host the World Cup.
A member nation of OPEC, the GCC, and the Arab League, Qatar has been a player in just about every recent regional conflict. It would be easy to dismiss them as meddlers and label them terrorist sympathizers and worse.
And they are.
Qatar also has an agreement with Iran.
"Iran, Qatar sign defense cooperation agreement
"But there may be simpler reasons for Qatar’s sudden enthusiasm for a far-off war. Opportunism, in a word, is what has guided policy, along with heaps of cash and ambition mixed with a mild appetite for risk that stands in contrast to other more shy-mannered Gulf potentates. The quiet protection of America’s heavy bootprint also lent encouragement.
It helps, too, that even for an untrammeled if benign autocracy, Qatar’s command structure is slim."
“If there wasn’t a power vacuum across the region, Qatar would never have got away with it,”
"In recent years, Qatar has proven to be an influential and rising political force in the Middle East. By cultivating an image of a peaceful and neutral world power, an unusual category for Middle Eastern countries, it has forged strong and lasting bonds between many dominant international players, and has risen to become a mediator within the region."
"Qatar’s influence, both with the West and within its own regional sphere of influence, has greatly expanded during the past few years. It plays a prominent regional role amongst their neighbors, and it has also sought to form lasting relationships with Western nations and their allies. It’s largest city, Doha, is a sparkling metropolis that has become a center for global business.
"Instrumental discussions have been hosted there for issues as diverse as lowering trade barriers to climate change negotiations. It’s region devoted to research, dubbed Education City, has campuses for six American and two European universities, including Northwestern University in Qatar. The country has even begun investing in poor suburbs in France, many of which have a Muslim majority. These soft power pursuits have paid off, as Qatar’s role in global affairs has steadily grown."
"There are serious differences between the U.S. and Qatar. But the connections between the two countries are strong.
At al-Udeid, about 20 miles from Doha, the U.S. Air Force has a base in a flat, lifeless desert where the wind is incessant.
The base services the U.S. Central Command, including U.S. forces in Afghanistan. This is where the Air Force came when Saudi Arabia wanted the U.S. military out."
"Like every place else in Qatar, al-Udeid, or, as it's known to American airmen, The Deed, is a massive construction zone that is becoming more permanent."
"Qatar's aim [is] to create a space in the Gulf region where differing parties, even rivals and enemies, could do deals. Allen Fromherz says the Qataris had a history of mediating among tribes and with their more powerful neighbors, the Saudis."
"Qatar's aim [is] to create a space in the Gulf region where differing parties, even rivals and enemies, could do deals."
Qatar's efforts towards being a mediating force in the Middle East have brought the nation much controversy, with neighboring countries going so far as to temporarily cut ties and publicly rebuke the nation.
In June 2013, the Taliban would open an office in Doha, Qatar and in 2014 negotiations lead to the exchange of The Taliban Five for U.S. Sgt Bowe Bergdahl.
A very controversial event. I'm not going to flesh that controversy out here. I simply want to point out that Qatar hosted talks between the US and the Taliban which lead to a deal for a prisoner swap. Controversial or not, it was a successful negotiation.
"It was never obvious that the political office would be able to deliver. Its members speak English and are relatively worldly. Many U.S. officials doubted that they spoke for the hard men doing the fighting.
The Bergdahl trade was a hard test case. Sergeant Bergdahl was held by the Haqqani network, but the most important Guantanamo detainees were associated with other parts of the Taliban."
"Would the Haqqanis release their prize for little in return? Could the Taliban communicate effectively with their forces on the ground – let alone control them?
Yes. The Taliban executed their part of the agreement immediately. The political office proved itself capable of handling basic diplomatic functions."
"Like the U.S. negotiating team, they were not the final decision makers, but they relayed messages to their leadership, stayed within the limits of their instructions, and made a deal they could keep."
I'm now going to cheat just a little bit and use this screen shot from wiki (I know, I know) to give cliff notes of the what happened with that office from 2015 thru to 2019. Don't skip the highlights, there are some important events in this screenshot.
All of this back and forth, the power struggles, the exchanges of prisoners, and the break downs of talks at times, and the restarting of talks, and a whole lot of the US and coalition forces killing Taliban fighters (as Trump put it, "we bombed them all the way to the negotiation table."), built up to this moment on February 29th, 2020.
And since this moment, not a single US soldier has been killed in combat in Afghanistan.
Thank you and an excellent thread. I screen shot your map. In my kitchen dinette area I’ve a huge map of the middle East because of current events and my Bible study. I really want to understand the Bible and the history the human race seem not to want to learn from and things are coming to a head. I feel it in my heart and soul. Again thank you and I’m not brilliant so I’ll have to reread your thought provoking thread again.
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