Conflict Alerts # 144, 19 August 2020
In the news
On 13 August, the Afghan government released 80 out of 400 Taliban prisoners.
On 15 August, Faizia Koofi, a member of the Afghanistan negotiation team was attacked, reportedly by the Taliban. President Ashraf Ghani said, "these cowardly attack on Afghan women activists will not stop their commitment to protecting the value of last 19 years in Afghanistan".
On 16 August, France and Australia disapproved the release of six prisoners, who were accused of killing their nationals. The US Special Representative, Zalmay Khalilzad, tweeted: "I call on all sides who seek peace to not only condemn the attack but to accelerate the peace process and start intra-Afghan negotiations as soon as possible."
On 17 August, President Ghani has warned to halt the release of the prisoners, until the Taliban releases 20 government troops.
Issues at large
First is the continuing violence by the Taliban, despite the release of prisoners. The Afghan Interior Ministry of Interior on 14 August stated the killing of 121 Afghan civilians in 29 provinces during the past two weeks. Taliban violence has not reduced.
The second issue is the Taliban's attitude towards women. Their latest attack is on Faizia Koofi; she is one of the 21 members, scheduled to take part in the forthcoming intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha.
The third issue is the continuing US pressurize on the Afghan government to release the Taliban prisoners. The Jirga has put forward five conditions for the Taliban with the release of 400 prisoners.
The intra-Afghan dialogue has a long way to go. The opposition from the Taliban to involve Women in the intra-Afghan talks complicates not only the outcome, but also the future of Afghanistan. The continuing attacks by the Taliban underline that the pressure is only in the Afghan government.