The signing of the groundbreaking deal between the US and the Taliban on 29th February precipitated many hashtags on Twitter that soon started trending. Videos surfaced online of Afghans across the country celebrating in public settings, expressing hope and optimism that the country would finally turn a dark chapter to a brighter page.
AfghanEye sat down with Emran Feroz to discuss his views on the deal. Emran Feroz is an investigative journalist whose work has focused on civilian casualties caused in rural Afghanistan by devastating US-led night raids. He is also the founder of “Drone Memorial,” a virtual memorial for drone victims since the beginning of the US led War on Terror.
There is allot of scepticism regarding the US-Taliban Peace Deal. What is your take on this document?
“Without doubt, it’s historical what happened in Doha. But as an Afghan, I would not call it a peace deal. It’s an agreement that might lead us to peace, but at the moment, many things are still unclear. Anyone who is familiar with the situation on the ground knows that mostly, it’s Afghans killing Afghans. “I have never seen a dead American”, an old man in Baghlan told me a few months ago. Instead, he “lost” a friend who joined the Taliban and told him that from now on he is his enemy. These problems exist, also within many families. Brothers are killing each other. When this stops, we have real peace.”
What are the political implications of this deal for US-Afghan relations in the near future?
“That’s an interesting point. When we talk about “US-Afghan relations” about which relations are we talking about? Washington does have relations with the Taliban and the Kabul government, especially from now on, as it seems. And this appears to be problematic too. The US signed a deal with the Taliban. It includes the release of 5.000 Taliban prisoners. It would be one of the first steps to implicate the deal, but now we have President Ashraf Ghani protesting against it. He says he will not release these prisoners now. But is he actually in a position to do so? I think there are many questions that needs to be answered. However, the deal was a big success for the Taliban. It appears that many Islamist groups around the world are even envious about it. But also from an Afghan perspective, it was a success, especially against the government in Kabul.”
Do you have any idea who is going to be in the Afghan government’s negotiation team once intra-afghan talks commence?
“First of all, we are still talking about an Afghan government but I would like to remind everyone that there is an ongoing government crisis. Ghani and Abdullah both claim to be the winner of the recent election. Abdullah even started to create his own government. So I wonder if both sides are going to send their separate teams to the intra-Afghan talks. That would be ridiculous. Obviously, the Taliban are also benefiting of this crisis. They claim that there is no real government to talk with. I think it’s hard to deny that. I don’t see a government either. Ironically, Kabul’s political elites constantly depicted the Taliban as a non-unified movement. But now it appears that Kabul itself is more split than ever before.”