United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is urging the Taliban to pursue peace negotiations this week during a visit to Doha, Qatar.
The State Department announced Monday Khalilzad had departed Sunday for Doha to participate in three days of meetings to “help formulate a joint international response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.” The U.S. envoy, who was a key architect of the Trump administration’s peace deal with the Taliban, will meet with partners from countries in the region and American allies from across the world to pursue a peaceful end to the increasingly violent Taliban takeover of the country.
Afghan reconciliation council chairman, Abdullah Abdullah, meets Zalmay Khalilzad, US special envoy, in Doha. They discuss obstacles for progress in peace talks. pic.twitter.com/934axlTftx
— 1TVNewsAF (@1TVNewsAF) August 10, 2021
Critically, Khalilzad is stressing that the Taliban will be isolated from the international community if it takes control of Afghanistan entirely by force. Khalilzad will push for a communal “commitment not to recognize a government imposed by force,” the State Department said.
The Islamic militant group has captured six of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals under one week, according to The Associated Press. The Taliban’s top military commander, Mohammad Yaqoob, released a statement Tuesday urging his insurgents not to harm Afghan troops and government officials in conquered areas. (RELATED: Out Goes Biden, In Comes Iran: US Adversaries Swarm To Fill Vacuum Created By Afghanistan Withdrawal)
Yaqoob also told his troops to protect local businesses and not to occupy the homes of fleeing government officials, but escaping locals have reported the militants are burning down schools, imposing repressive mandates on women and executing opponents, according to the AP and the United Nations.
Khalilzad is expected to meet with regional power players and urge them not to recognize the Taliban government if it takes power militarily. When the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan, the only countries to recognize the government were Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Taliban offensive has rapidly accelerated since April when the U.S. began to withdraw all troops from the country. Americans are expected to have removed all boots on the ground by the end of August, with around 95% already withdrawn as of now. (RELATED: Afghanistan President Blames US Troop Withdrawal For Worsening Security Amid Taliban Gains)
Reports have surfaced of Taliban militants executing Afghan commandos, media figures and U.S. collaborators as they take over the country. The Islamic insurgents have captured a number of key border crossings and are sending thousands of Afghan troops fleeing. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is scrambling to evacuate Afghans who aided the U.S. during its presence in the country before they are captured by the advancing Taliban forces.