Qatar Is Behind Return of More Image-Conscious Taliban to Afghanistan
Doha officially hosted negotiations between the US and the Taliban and it was Doha that announced at the beginning of 2021 that a peace agreement had been reached
Qatar has played a major role in the return of the hard-line Taliban movement to power in Afghanistan after 20 years of war with the United States that erupted after the September 11 attacks and led to the overthrow of the group’s rule there. But analysts believe that the 2021 Taliban is not the same as the Taliban of 2000.
Doha officially hosted several rounds of negotiations between the US and the Taliban during peace talks, and it was Doha that announced at the beginning of 2021 that an agreement had been reached. But with the start of the withdrawal of the first foreign soldier from Kabul, came questions about the reality of the agreement and its details.
Furat Bassem, a Saudi political analyst and journalist specializing in militant groups, told The Media Line that the Taliban were restructuring with an eye toward taking back the reins of power in Afghanistan from Doha, which has been hosting Taliban leaders since 2001.
“I was close to the negotiators in Doha, and I got information that the Taliban were negotiating fiercely, and were able to make gains. They were trained in the art of politics and are no longer the same as before, but there is still political fear in the world about their actions,” he said.
Bassem explained that “Doha has hosted the movement’s leaders since the war on Afghanistan, and that was with the knowledge of US administrations. The Taliban leaders in Doha were retrained to rule, also Mullah (Abdul Ghani) Baradar was released from his prison in Pakistan directly to Doha, and returned to Afghanistan via a Qatari military plane, as everyone has seen.”
He stressed that the US agreement signed with the Taliban in February 2020 under former President Donald Trump “was fully sponsored by Qatar, which oversaw the various details of the agreement.”
Bassem claims that the agreement “included US and Qatari military support for the movement, in exchange for (The Taliban) not supporting extremist groups, and that Afghanistan would not again be a platform for them, in addition to other agreements such as investing in lithium (mines) and other minerals whose value is estimated at more than one trillion dollars.”
They were trained in the art of politics and are no longer the same as before, but there is still political fear in the world about their actions
Abdullah Al Marri, a Qatari political analyst, told The Media Line that “it seems that the Afghan street, in general, is more accepting of the Taliban movement, which has endured for twenty years, than accepting of the rulers appointed by the United States, because they did not contribute to the development of the country, but rather were a burden on it.”
He added that: “The Taliban is basically not like other extremist Islamic movements. It is a movement that belongs to the Ash’ari sect, and it is in great disagreement with the Salafi al-Qaida organization.” Despite that disagreement, the Taliban in 2001 refused to hand over al-Qaida members to the United States “they are Muslims, and it is not permissible (under Islamic law) to hand them over.”
Qatari journalist Eid al-Kubaisi confirmed to The Media Line that “Qatar only hosted the rounds of negotiations, and now it provides support to the Afghan people, not the Taliban, and what is happening is being done according to the agreement with the United States of America.”
He added that “The military equipment that was left is part of the support to restore security, as the United States was aware of the failure of government forces, and that the number of 300,000 Afghan soldiers is just ink on paper; because the real numbers are much less than that, but because of political corruption, 300,000 fighters were registered.”
“We witnessed the collapse of the security forces in moments, and the Taliban did not fight until it reached Kabul,” al-Kubaisi added. “There is great support and acceptance of the movement in the Afghan street. On the other hand, there is an agreement that will govern whether the Taliban will fulfill its promises to the international community or not. Qatar will be one of the observers of this agreement.”
Hazem Al-Shammari, a Saudi political analyst and specialist in extremist groups, told The Media Line that “Qatar is responsible for the rebirth of the movement and its support over the past years, until it reached power again.”
He continued that “The Taliban leaders were in Doha hotels, and they studied politics again, in addition to Islamic rulings on the Hanafi school of thought, but with less strictness, which allows them to lead the country in a different way; But the Taliban will remain a danger to all sides.”
He said that another agreement took place in Doha between the Taliban, Iran and Turkey, which explains the ease with which business is continuing at the border crossing between Afghanistan and Iran, as well as Turkey’s desire to continue operating the airport in Kabul. Doha was behind this agreement.
Afghan journalist Shams al-Haq Muhammad told The Media Line that “the Taliban have great influence in the regions of Afghanistan and have the ability to manage them, and this influence continued even during the American war, through Quran memorization centers.”
He pointed out that “the new Taliban will allow women to work and complete their studies if they wear the Islamic headscarf, and they can also go out to markets, but music and arts will remain forbidden.”
Muhammad also said that “there are several elements of Qatari intelligence inside the camps that were seized by the Taliban, but they are only there for observation.”
The Taliban government will be internationally recognized during the next two years, and the Taliban will prove that it is not the same as before, but rather a modern version trained in Qatar, and then the Qatari role with this movement will be revealed
He stressed that the Taliban movement, under Qatari guidance, announced a general amnesty for everyone who previously worked with the Afghan government or the American forces. The killings that occurred following the takeover “were all individual operations, and most of them were also to avenge the people by some members of the movement, who may have been harmed because of some translators or informants who worked with US forces.”
Muhammad expects that “the Taliban government will be internationally recognized during the next two years, and the Taliban will prove that it is not the same as before, but rather a modern version trained in Qatar, and then the Qatari role with this movement will be revealed.”
American political analyst and terror group expert Mark Smith told The Media Line “the United States was not deceived about Afghanistan, but rather the withdrawal took place in a random manner.”
“As for Qatar’s role in the agreement, Zalmay Khalilzad (the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation at the State Department) has been in Doha for the past two years, and he is one of the godfathers of this agreement. America has agreed to hand over Afghanistan to the Taliban,” he added.
Smith stressed that “the situation needs several years to stabilize in Afghanistan, but the Taliban will not return as before, it only wants to rule according to its own Islamic law, and will not allow any other religious group to exist on its soil so that the 2001 scenario does not return again.”
He said that the military equipment that the US left behind remained as part of the agreement with the Taliban and that while Qatar, France and Turkey may be the guarantors and observers of what the Taliban will do, “Russia, China and Iran will certainly have their influence in this country.”