The lucrative geopolitics of hosting Afghan peace talks - What will Doha, Istanbul get
Istanbul is all set to host the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. While the date is April 16, Friday, no announcement has come so far given anything can happen anytime when it comes to the Afghan peace process. Taliban is eager to cross the 1st of May deadline for withdrawal of American troops. While it is given, US troops won't be able to withdraw by then, the Taliban is hoping to gain leverage, a kind of moral upper hand.
An Afghan government source told WION, "They are keen on condition-based withdrawal, not a time-bound withdrawal". A condition, on the Taliban to reduce violence, something that continues to remain high.
But what did Doha gain from hosting the talks on Afghan Peace Process? The lucrative geopolitics of hosting Afghan peace talks mean, getting international prestige and certain trade-offs.
Earlier this year, Qatar was able to normalize ties with four Arab countries--Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt at the famous Al Ula Summit. The four Arab states had cut ties with oil-rich state of Qatar way back in 2017. The outcome in practical terms was the end of a three and half-year-old blockade against Qatar, reopening land, sea.
Qatar, last year was a busy place. Not only hosted the signing of the Taliban, US peace pact but also in September hosted the start of intra-Afghan talks or the talks between the Afghan government and Taliban. America's reduced role in Afghanistan that can pave way for its troops to leave is Washington's priority, and while that still hasn't happened, Qatar was able to bring the various factions together, and this helped Qatar normalize ties with its neighbors in long term.
Now, it's Turkey that is set to host such talks. Turkey which has been having tiff in some way with Russia, the US will be able to get back lost ground. And with hosting such talks, moral leadership and economics are not far behind. In fact, hosting big-ticket talks amid the economic downturn is something that can be politically fruitful. The US under its new proposal to the Afghan president proposed talks in Turkey between the Afghan government and the Taliban and later 6 country talks under UN Umbrella.
Interestingly, it was not only Turkey who has been keen to host Afghan peace talks. In the fray has been Uzbekistan and Indonesia as well.