In an interview with Radio Nowruz, former Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan Mohammad Reza Bahrami said the Doha agreement signed between the U.S. and the Taliban only benefits one side, and that is not the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
“The Doha agreement, for the first time, produced significant legitimacy for the Taliban,” he pointed.
He added that Iran was not against the Taliban’s presence in the political future of Afghanistan, since that may be needed to achieve peace, but the agreement chose to legitimise the Taliban “unnecessarily” and to the “detriment” of the Afghan government.
“If you read the Doha agreement carefully, there is no place to reduce violence, not even a ceasefire in the Doha agreement,” he points.
This “major flaw” has led to increasing violence across the country because although the agreement states that the Taliban cannot attack Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals, it means that there is no problem if they launch an offensive on any other place.
“I think this is a kind of green light to attack areas under the control of the Afghan government in areas other than provincial capitals,” Bahrami tells Radio Nowruz.
With the agreement not preventing the Taliban from attacking areas outside Afghanistan’s provincial capitals, at a time when the Air Force is not fully capable of providing support to ground forces, has upset the “balance of power” in favour of the Taliban.
Bahrami also notes another flaw of the agreement and that it the reference to a “post-agreement Islamic government” which does not currently exist.
“[The agreement] has transcended reality on earth or the totality of the current government of Afghanistan recognised by all countries in the region and the world. The Taliban and the United States have in fact gone through a structure that was not in the context of their negotiations and have agreed to go through it without regard to its considerations.”
When asked about his thoughts on the Taliban’s continuous reference to the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” Bahrami said Iran was also waiting to see what the group proposes.
“In my opinion, negotiations can be a turning point when the two sides can agree on the final state or the desired goal or “end state,” he recommended.
The former diplomat further criticised the Doha agreement for not addressing the political process that the Taliban needed to adhere to during the peace talks.
“The reason why the procedure in Doha is now stopped is that the U.S.-Taliban agreement has drastically raised the expectations of one side [the Taliban] and raised the spirit of victory [of the other]” Bahrami said.
He refused to comment on President Donald Trump’s troop withdrawal tweet with the Christmas deadline.
Bahrami said that the tweet did have a clear effect and that was to “strengthen the spirit of one side and keep the spirit of the other side at a standstill, if not weakened.”
He said the political and psychological challenges to the negotiations remain, but the regional allies hope that Afghanistan does not revert to a stage in 1989 when the Soviet army left Afghanistan, yet the war continued.
“It is the worst choice,” he concluded, and advised flexibility at the negotiating table so that the interests of Afghan people and the national interest are kept.