Sources close to the Taliban have confirmed that the United Nations has “temporarily” removed sanctions on Taliban’s senior members who have held negotiations with US officials in Qatar.
According to the sources, all the 14 members of Taliban’s political office in Qatar, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of Qatar office and deputy leader of the group, have been removed from the UN blacklist for nine months.
Anas Haqqani, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, Amir Khan Muttaqi, Qari Din Mohammad, Zahidullah Ahmadzai and Mawlawi Ziaurrahman Madani are also among those who have been removed from the UN blacklist, the sources said.
“This issue (removing names from UN blacklist) was discussed in the first meeting as well, but the Americans were making the excuse that for removing the names, the agreement of the Afghan government is needed. But this time, it is clear that the Americans have made the move, after their 16-day meeting (in Qatar), to reach an agreement,” said Nazar Mohammad Mutmaen, a political analyst familiar with Qatar talks.
The Afghan government and the UN have not commented on the report.
Iqbal Khyber, head of People’s Peace Movement said that lifting sanctions on the Taliban’s senior members will help the peace talks.
“This will not only facilitate the peace talks but will also create trust between the two sides,” said Khyber.
This comes as the US Special Envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad and his team are expected to start a new round of talks with the Taliban in Qatar later this month.
Khalilzad so far has held five rounds of talks with the Taliban which according to him, these meetings have been “productive”.
Mohammad Ismail Khan, member of the Jamiat-e-Islami leadership and member of the newly-established Reconciliation Leadership Council, said the working committees of the council have not reached an agreement about
the members of the delegation that will attend the Qatar meeting – scheduled for April 19.
“So far, they have not agreed on a list. The government was trying to have more delegates (in the team), but the politicians were not accepting it,” Khan said.
The intra-Afghan talks, between the Afghan government, Afghan politicians and the Taliban, is scheduled for April 19 to 21. Initially, the talks were scheduled for April 14, but the Reconciliation Leadership Council
on Wednesday said the meeting has been postponed.
This comes as the Taliban announced their spring offensive on Friday morning which is entitled Operation Al-Fatha - which means “victory” in Arabic.
The group said in a statement that the offensive will be conducted across Afghanistan with the aim of “eradicating occupation” and “cleansing our Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption”.
Hours after Taliban announced their so-called spring offensive, a spokesman of the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, Dave Butler, said the coalition forces will continue to support the Afghan forces in the fight against the Taliban as the group has chosen violence despite a “tremendous” opportunity for peace.