Peace Process Update: Sep 9
Updated: Dec 20, 2020
First VP Amrullah Saleh Escapes Assassination Attempt, Prisoner Exchange Nears Completion as Intra-Afghan talks in Doha Set to Begin
Following the Loya Jirga’s decision to release the remaining 400 Taliban detainees last month, the process is nearly complete with both GIRoA and the Taliban insurgency claiming the final prisoner release will be completed in the coming days. This step is seemingly the final prerequisite for face to face negotiations in Doha to commence and the peace process to progress to the next stage. But, in the shadow of these impending negotiations, the Taliban carried out a brazen assassination attempt in central Kabul today when they detonated a roadside bomb as First Vice President Amrullah Saleh’s motorcade drove by. Thankfully Saleh escaped the attempt with minor injuries, but the bombing left at least 10 dead, more than 15 wounded and dozens of businesses and cars destroyed.
Since the Taliban signed a peace agreement with the U.S. in late February the insurgent group has stopped attacks on U.S. personnel and bases but significantly increased attacks against Afghan military personnel and civilians. The insurgents have also stepped up a targeted assassination campaign against its critics and Afghan peace negotiators, with today’s attempt on Saleh’s life being just one of many attempts over the past few weeks. These attacks are a strong indication that the Taliban’s primary objective is to turn back the clock on Afghanistan and reimpose its brutal dictatorship that ruled through fear, oppression and violent attacks against anyone who opposes their will. It is also a strong signal that the Taliban seeks to reestablish Afghanistan as a safe haven for enemies of the U.S. and the west to plan and stage terrorist attacks.
The Afghan people have suffered through 40 years of war and deserve to live in peace. But any future peace agreement cannot compromise the hard earned progress that Afghans have made with the strong support of the U.S. to establish a democracy, the rule of law, women’s rights, human rights and opportunities for education and economic advancement.