News / Asia

Taliban: Doha Office Flag, Banner Raised with 'Agreement of Qatar'

A general view of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha, Qatar, June 18, 2013.
A general view of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha, Qatar, June 18, 2013.
Reuters
The Taliban had the agreement of the Qatar government to use its flag and banner at the opening of its Doha office, the group said on Sunday, in a sign it may be unwilling to remove what has become a key sticking-point in nascent Afghan peace talks.
    
There appeared to have been a breakthrough last week in efforts to kickstart peace talks to end a 12-year-old war in Afghanistan, when the Taliban said it was opening a long-anticipated office in the Qatari capital, Doha.
    
But those hopes were dashed when the Afghan government reacted in outrage over the opening of the office last Tuesday, protesting against the raising of the Taliban flag and the use of signs proclaiming "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," the name the Taliban used during their brief rule from 1996 to 2001.
    
President Hamid Karzai canceled plans for an Afghan peace delegation to travel to Qatar and suspended talks with the United States over a vital security pact, in the belief it had failed to ensure the Taliban did not misuse the office.
    
And despite subsequent negotiations, Sunday's statement appears to suggest the Taliban may not be ready to back down.
    
"The raising of the flag and the use of the name of Islamic Emirate were done with the agreement of the Qatari government," the Taliban spokesman in Doha, Dr. Mohammad Naeem, said.
    
He also responded to reported remarks by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the militant group had signed a pact with the United States on the use of the office.
    
While Reuters could not locate the specific report Naeem referred to, on Saturday Kerry did tell a Doha news conference that an "agreement" had not been adhered to.
    
"No such agreement has been signed, nor does such an agreement exist, although documents have been exchanged between the Islamic Emirate and the Qatari government regarding conditions of the office," Naeem said.
    
Kerry's comments in Doha appeared to have a more pessimistic cast than previous official U.S. remarks.
    
"We need to see if we can get back on track. I don't know whether that's possible or not," Kerry said.
    
"If there is not a decision ... to move forward by the Taliban in short order, then we may have to consider whether or not the office has to be closed."
    
The Karzai government showed no sign of compromise, and on Sunday foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai repeated that the ceremonial opening was in breach of "assurances" from the United States.
    
"We still need a full explanation about what happened," Mosazai said. "That needs to be explained in a clear, transparent manner to the Afghan government and those discussions and contacts are taking place as we speak."
    
If the Taliban office did not prove useful to the peace process, it should not exist, Mosazai said.
    
"If the office is not productive to the peace process... it is better that this office should not only be closed but annihilated," he added.
    
Afghanistan, the United States and Qatar have waited since Tuesday to see if the Taliban leaders would agree to remove the contentious symbols.
    
While a plaque reading "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" has been removed from the entrance to the office, a similar nameplate inside the building has stayed. The Taliban flag was lowered, but not removed.
    
The Taliban have delayed plans to start operations at the Doha office on Sunday, while awaiting instructions from their leaders, a source from the Qatari foreign ministry told Reuters.
    
"They told us that the office was going to be open today at 7 a.m., but no one is here and they still didn't tell us what their new plans are," said the source. Taliban spokesmen in Doha were not immediately available to comment.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More