Violence in Afghanistan on the Rise While Peace Talks Resume

With peace talks ongoing, the Taliban are attempting to use a surge in violence as leverage in the intra-Afghan talks—taking the lives of many Afghan civilians and army personnel.

More than a month after the Afghan peace talks began in Doha, Qatar, the Taliban has increased their attacks on Afghan civilians and the Afghan army.

The Taliban’s 10-day assault in the Helmand province has forced nearly 40,000 locals to leave their homes. The Taliban has also been actively fighting in three other provinces and several other districts.

In counter attacks, the Afghan forces have caused heavy casualties on the Taliban’s fighters too.

The ongoing violence has caused tremendous damage, all while Afghan officials and civilians demand a comprehensive ceasefire—a demand the Taliban refuses.

The Taliban and the U.S. signed a deal on February 2, in which the Taliban committed to not attacking American and its ally forces. But the deal did not include the same protection for the Afghan civilians and the Afghan army.

Instead, the Taliban has increased their attacks, aiming to use their violent power to sway the peace talks in their favor.

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Peace Talks Begin on September 12

The Taliban and the Afghan government’s team began peace talks on September 12 in Doha, a day after the 19th anniversary of 9/11. The talks were stalled for weeks because the Taliban demanded to negotiate on the basis of the agreement between them and the U.S.

The Taliban-U.S. agreement, referred to as the Doha agreement, generously favors the Taliban. It does not recognize the Afghan government as the official and recognized body in the talks—giving the Taliban a more powerful position.

As a result, the Afghan government rejects to basing the talks on the Doha agreement—a document to which they were not a party to and are not recognized as the legitimate representative of the Afghan people. The Afghan government believes the talks should be based on the framework agreed to by the Afghan people at a recent inclusive consultation as well as other agreements, especially the U.S. and the Afghan government’s joint statement on the peace process.

The two teams, the Taliban and the Afghan government, met two days ago to restart their talks in Doha.

The Taliban continue to call the Afghan government a puppet government and do not recognize the team representing the state of Afghanistan.

The group also refuses a ceasefire or reduction in violence, despite continued demands of the Afghan people.

In response to the rise in violence, Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. Envoy to the peace talks, said, “Attacks have been on the rise in recent weeks—threatening the peace process and alarming the Afghan people and their regional and international supporters.”

Khalilzad continued to state that he and other American officials have been in touch with the Taliban on reducing the violence.

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Makhfi Azizi is the director of the Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls at the Feminist Majority Foundation. She has been working with the foundation in this capacity for two years and works on issues of human rights, peace and security. Makhfi is dedicated to women’s equality, peace and democracy.