Afghan analysts and former government officials expressed mixed views on the upcoming talks between Afghan politicians and Taliban representatives in Moscow, which will be held on Tuesday.
The United States and Taliban officials last week agreed in principal on a draft framework for peace as the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad put it. The US and Taliban officials met in Qatar last month for the fourth time and for six days. However, the group has refused to talk with President Ashraf Ghani’s negotiators.
The Afghan government has not been invited to attend the talks in order to pave the ground for Taliban participation at the event as a senior Russian government official put it as quoted by Reuters.
Some analyst said the talks is a “confrontation” between Russia and the United States on Afghan peace, while others said it is a chance for the peace process. So far, it is not clear who has organized the Moscow talks.
Daud Naji, a Kabul-based analyst in political affairs, said Russia remains worried about the future of Afghanistan if the changes that a Taliban official has said will happen. According to Naji, “US is insisting on withdrawing of its forces from Afghanistan and (Abbas) Stanikzai, former head of Taliban’s political office in Qatar, has said that ‘the Afghan army should be dissolved when they (Taliban) will come to Afghanistan because it is an American army”.
Naji said that such remarks and the insisting of US to withdraw its forces has “concerned” Russia about Afghanistan’s situation.
Shahzada Massoud, an advisor to former President Hamid Karzai, described the Moscow talks as a good step towards creating a “national environment” for intra-Afghan negotiations. “Hopefully, it (the Moscow talks) will provide the ground for intra-Afghan talks in which the (Afghan) government will also be party of it,” he added.
Former President Hamid Karzai, former Vice President Mohammad Yunus Qanuni, former Balkh governor and Jamiat-e-Islami member Atta Mohammad Noor, Jamiat-e-Islami member Mohammad Ismail Khan, second Deputy Chief Executive and Wahday party member Mohammad Mohaqiq, head of National Islamic Front of Afghanistan Sayed Hamid Gailani, former member of Taliban Abdul Salam Zaeef and ZabihullahMujaddedi, son of former President Sebghatullah Mujaddedi are the Afghan politicians who reportedly attend the meeting.
Sources close to Taliban have said that a delegation from the group led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, former head of Taliban’s Qatar office, will participate in Moscow talks.
“Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai will lead Taliban delegation and also Taliban’s Qatar office Mohammad Suhail Shaheen and some others from Qatar will be members of the delegation,” said Hassan Haqyar, a political affairs analyst.
“The important thing is that Afghanistan politicians will participate in the meeting. They should define Afghans national interests and should definethe issue that who will guarantee the Afghans interests,” said Mahmoud Marhoon, a political affairs analyst.
In reaction to Moscow’s bid to host a meeting on Afghan peace, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said on Feb. 1 that the talks will help the peace process and that the Russian government should respect an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
“Holding such meetings will not help us in reaching peace. We did not and do not see such meetings necessary and will not attend this meeting,” MoFA spokesman Sebghat Ahmadi said.