Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum on Friday said that he strongly supports the peace talks with the Taliban, but said that the Taliban are not as strong as some might think.
Dostum said that he has doubts about the peace process, but insisted that there was no military solution to the conflict in the country.
“The Taliban are not as powerful as some think they are...the Taliban have hundreds of problems internally,” said Dostum.
He said that the Taliban will not be able to win the war militarily and suggests the group gives diplomacy a chance and finds a solution through the peace negotiations.
“Even if peace leads to war, or an Islamic emirate is formed by the Taliban the same as their former structure or if they announce an emirate, they can never win militarily,” said Dostum.
Dostum’s remarks come as Afghanistan’s negotiating team on Friday left the country for Doha to attend the direct peace talks with the Taliban. The opening ceremony of the talks will be attended by Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other high-ranking officials.
We are going to tell the Taliban that you (Taliban) will not be able to win through this path (war), Afghanistan is a common house for everyone, the way has been paved for reconciliation and partnership,” said Abdul Hafiz Mansour, a member of the peace negotiating team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the talks with the Taliban.
“The Afghan delegation has all the necessary criteria, they are fully prepared from a political, religious and technical perspective,” said Attaullah Ludin, a member of the peace negotiating team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the talks with the Taliban.
On Thursday, Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban delegation, said in a tweet that the opening meeting of the intra-Afghan talks is scheduled for September 12th in Qatar.
Later the Qatari government confirmed the start date:
"The State of Qatar is pleased to announce that the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations will commence in Doha on Saturday the 12th of September 2020...These vitally important direct negotiations between the different Afghan parties represent a step forward in bringing lasting peace to Afghanistan..."
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo also confirmed the talks with the following tweet:
"The United States welcomes the announcement that Afghanistan peace negotiations will begin September 12. This is an historic moment and Afghanistan’s best chance at ending forty years of war and bloodshed."
According to the statement, the opening ceremony of the peace talks in Doha will be attended by Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Mohammad Haneef Atmar, acting foreign minister, Abdul Salam Rahimi, the President's special representative for peace, and Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, state minister for peace affairs to represent the Afghan government.
Afghanistan’s international allies welcomed the announcement on the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations on September 12, calling on all stakeholders of the talks to seize this “historic opportunity” and come up with inclusive approach at the negotiating table.
The United Nations in a statement said it welcomes upcoming face-to-face peace talks between Afghan parties in Doha, Qatar.
“The suffering of the Afghan people has gone on for far too long. The UN joins the country’s brave and resilient people in urging all Afghan leaders and negotiators to seize this historic opportunity to end the fighting and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity,” the UN said in the statement.