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Doha agreement: the key to Taliban power escalation

With the Taliban seizure of power, the Doha agreement shows how few points of the pact have been fulfilled
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In February 2020, the US administration headed at the time by former President Donald Trump led an agreement with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, stipulating a timetable for the final withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

In the agreement, the US committed to a permanent withdrawal in exchange for the Taliban guaranteeing that Afghanistan would not become an arena for planning attacks or actions that threaten US security. What was designated as the Agreement to Bring Peace to Afghanistan was the beginning of a Taliban escalation that has finally succeeded in taking control of the country through a "blitzkrieg" in which there has been little resistance from the Afghan army and which has led to the final departure of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani from the country.

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Doha Agreement: The principle of withdrawal

Following the signing of the agreement, the United States set a time frame of 14 months for US troops and their international allies to leave the country. In return, the Taliban pledged to ensure US security, stating that they would not "allow any of their members, or other individuals or groups, including al-Qaeda, to use Afghan territory to threaten the security of the United States and its allies". 

Similarly, it stipulated that the Taliban together with the Afghan government should reach a ceasefire agreement and lead a peace process in Afghanistan. In the last month, however, we have witnessed how the insurgents have seized power in the country in record time. For this reason, both analysts and intelligence sources were surprised by the rapid Taliban occupation and the weak Afghan resistance. 

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In this regard, former Afghan Chief of Staff Sher Mohammed Karimi said in an interview that "the Afghan army was well prepared and trained, the problem is that it had been too involved in politics for the last five years". On the other hand, he noted that there was "too much corruption and nepotism" in the army and that, in addition to these factors, there were "mainly logistical problems". Most of the time, the army didn't even have ammunition," he confesses.

"In the last few days there was too much interference in the army politically, more than once it was said that negotiations were going on. They were told not to fight, they were told that the international community should not blame us for aspects of the agreements in Doha and elsewhere," he said. 

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"The army was largely in limbo. They didn't know what to do. The consequences of these variables have led the country to submit to a Taliban government in which human rights, especially those pertaining to women's rights, are in jeopardy. 

The Taliban also included in the agreement the release of prisoners from jail. In this regard, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 government officials were to be released. Many of these prisoners are feared to be part of terrorist organisations such as Al-Qaeda or Daesh. However, if we look at the events of August, the only provisions that have been fulfilled in the agreement are the withdrawal of international troops. However, if we look at the events of August, the only provisions that have been fulfilled in the agreement are the withdrawal of international troops.

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On the premise that the Afghan security forces would be the ones to take control of the country after the West withdrew, the West was gradually executing its exit from the country while the insurgents were taking over Afghan capitals in the face of the Afghan army's inaction and with an arsenal in which the United States invested millions of dollars. 

In this respect, we see how key parts of the Doha agreement have not been fulfilled as even talks with the Afghan government did not take place. Now, with the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan, terrorist groups such as ISIS-K are threatening to sow even more chaos in a country that fears a civil war between terrorist groups.

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In a statement by Afghan activist Zahra Husseini, she told AFP that "as I watched it being signed, I had this bad feeling that it would lead to the return of the Taliban to power and not to peace". Afghanistan is still without a glimpse of peace and now, with the Taliban's seizure of power, scenarios for a peace process are hard to envisage.