After nearly nineteen years of bloodshed and instability in Afghanistan, there is now finally some concrete positive news. After months of uncertainty and waiting, the Afghan Government and the Afghan Taliban officially met for the first time in direct talks on September 12, 2020, in what has been described as “a truly momentous occasion,” initiating the highly anticipated intra-Afghan talks.
The agreement signed between the US and the Taliban in February 2020 had earlier paved the way for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan by May 2021. Intra-Afghan talks were also a pivotal part of the agreement and were scheduled for March 10, 2020, before which both sides had to complete the exchange of 5,000 Taliban prisoners for 1,000 members of the Afghan forces in 10 days. However, the Ghani-Abdullah feud created significant uncertainty and caused delays in the release of Taliban prisoners, while the Taliban’s refusal to end hostilities also led to the postponement of talks.