In Doha, the Taliban in search of dialogue with the West

The future of Afghanistan continues to be written, in part, in Doha, Qatar. A delegation from the Taliban government began on Saturday, November 27, a series of meetings with representatives of Western countries to try to open a new chapter in the history of Afghanistan’s relations with the world. In the secrecy of these talks organized with the United States and Europe, it is a war of influence which is engaged between each of the parties. Because if all the protagonists agree on the need to establish viable communication channels, the goals pursued differ from country to country. Divisions that could play into the hands of the Taliban.

Discussions began with the European Union (EU) Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, who met for two days with Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. The EU welcomed the Taliban’s commitment to honor their pledge to“Amnesty” to all those who served the old regime, and to let those who wanted to leave the country. But Brussels urged them to set up a “Inclusive government”, open to other political sensibilities, and to encourage democracy and equal access to education for girls.

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Only under these conditions, Niklasson said, could the EU release additional funding. “For the direct benefit of the Afghan people” to help a country plunged into one of the worst humanitarian crises in its history. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said on Sunday that “The dialogue does not imply the recognition of the Taliban government”. However, these declarations do not mean that there is unanimity among the member states.

The Franco-German disagreement

The French are opposed, for the moment, to any form of return to Kabul, other than linked to humanitarian aid, because that would amount, they say, to recognizing the Taliban regime. However, Brussels has already sent a charge d’affaires on site. The Germans and the Netherlands, faithful to their doctrine that one does not negotiate with a regime, but with a country, are also pushing for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the Taliban. Berlin even intends to use 400 million euros already allocated, in early 2021, to development projects in Afghanistan.

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In addition, the EU had to backtrack on a project promoted by supporters of cooperation going beyond just humanitarian aid. The Germans, in particular, supported the idea of ​​paying, unconditionally, the salaries of Afghan teachers so that all schools could reopen in the country. France was against it, but it was above all the United States – through the voice of Tom West, American envoy for Afghanistan who began his own talks with the Taliban on Monday in Doha – which blocked this initiative. They consider that this would amount to directly financing the Taliban state, a regime which seized power by force.

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In Doha, the Taliban in search of dialogue with the West

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