Afghan peace talks begin in Qatar, seeking to end decades of war

The Taliban and the Afghan government began historic peace talks in Qatar on Saturday, aiming to form a power-sharing government that would end decades of war that has devastated Afghanistan and left millions dead and displaced.

If a peace agreement is achieved, it will be the first time in generations that a new form of Afghan government has not been established at gunpoint: the current model ushered in the American invasion that toppled the cruel Islamic Taliban regime in 2001, and every previous event was as far back as the Soviet invasion. The year 1979 by coup d'├ętat, collapse, or conquest.

But as the Qatar talks began, against a backdrop of US troop withdrawal and grave violence against Afghan officials and civilians, some critics of the operation argued that the Taliban insurgency was, in fact, still wielding a pistol at the head of the government.

Peace talks began on Saturday morning in Doha, the Qatari capital, with official celebrations held under tight security measures and strict restrictions on the Coronavirus. The negotiations will be complicated at every turn because of the threat of constant insurgent attacks, decades of losses and grievances, and because of the foreign forces' withdrawal of Afghan factions in opposing directions.

Nevertheless, the fact that delegations from both sides have finally come to the negotiating table, after repeated delays, provides the nation with a rare opportunity in its recent history: to find a formula for lasting coexistence before the withdrawal of another foreign army creates a void, echoing the nation's cycle of misfortune.

Abdullah Abdullah, head of the Supreme Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan and head of the delegation from Kabul, said at the opening ceremony that his side was proposing a "ceasefire for humanitarian reasons" while the talks were continuing.

“We came here in good faith and with good intentions to stop 40 years of bloodshed and to achieve lasting peace across the country,” said Mr. Abdullah. "The current conflict has no victor through war and military means, but there will be no loser if this crisis is resolved by submitting to the will of the people."

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