Afghan Forces Hit With Wave of Attacks on Eve of Taliban Talks

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Summary

The day before the talks between Afghan politicians and Taliban leaders in Moscow there were more than 40 people killed in Afghanistan. Afghan politicians and Taliban members arrived in Moscow for a celebration of 100 years of diplomatic relations with Russia. This ceremony is also an informal peace talk between Afghan politicians and Taliban leaders. This week’s talk will have Afghan ambassador to Russia, Latif Bahand. The first meeting was derailed after many Afghan officials objected to attend.

Zalmay Khalilzad led a United States delegation had several meetings with the Taliban in Qatar but each time was rejected to talk to the Afghan government.

 

 

 

Afghan Forces Hit With Wave of Attacks on Eve of Taliban Talks

 

KABUL, Afghanistan — More than 40 people were killed across Afghanistan on Tuesday on the eve of talks between Afghan politicians and Taliban leaders in Moscow, as the militant group pursued a familiar tactic of intensifying its attacks before high-profile meetings.

Thirteen Afghan soldiers were killed by Taliban fighters in Khost Province, and 23 people, including Afghan special operations forces, police officers, civilians and militia members, died in western Ghor Province. In northern Samangan, Taliban fighters nearly overran an Afghan military outpost, killing at least six Afghan police and soldiers, according to Afghan officials.

But on Monday, Afghan soldiers wrested control of the Deh Yak district in southeastern Ghazni Province from Taliban fighters after a concerted offensive. The group had controlled the town for two years.

The spurt of violence came as Afghan politicians, including one of the candidates vying to replace President Ashraf Ghani in elections in September, and members of the Taliban arrived in Moscow to celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations with Russia. The ceremony serves as an excuse for informal peace talks between Afghan politicians and 14 Taliban negotiators.

In an opening ceremony, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia called for the “total pullout” of foreign forces from Afghanistan, a jab at the United States and NATO countries that deploy troops there.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy leader, said his group was “committed for peace” and wanted to “end the occupation” of Afghanistan.

 

In February, 50 delegates from both the Taliban and Afghan politicians met at Moscow’s President Hotel. The Afghan delegation, led by former President Hamid Karzai, spoke of preserving the current Afghan government following any withdrawal of foreign forces. The Taliban criticized the Afghan Constitution that was put in place after the American-led invasion in 2001.

Absent from the discussions in February were any representatives from Mr. Ghani’s government. But this week’s talks will include the Afghan ambassador to Russia, Latif Bahand, who will represent Kabul in any “intra-Afghan” talks, according to Sibghatullah Ahmadi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Last month, what was meant to be the first meeting between the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators was derailed after the militant group objected to the large number of Afghan officials attending.

A United States delegation, led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the Americans’ peace envoy, has had several meetings with the Taliban in Qatar. Each time the Taliban have rejected requests that they talk to the Afghan government.

 

 

 

Source:  New York Times, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, May. 28, 2019. Photo credit to Alexander Zemlianichenko.