Qatar says doing utmost to positively influence Taliban

Qatari foreign minister says doing utmost to positively influence Taliban on women's, minority rights
3 min read
23 August, 2021
Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani says Doha is working to convince the Taliban to form an inclusive government and protect women's and minority rights.
Mohammed Abdulrahman Al-Thani said the Taliban needed to share power and respect human rights [Getty]

Qatar's foreign minister has said Doha is trying to positively influence the Taliban and convince them to protect women's and minority rights, as well as enter into a power-sharing arrangement with other sectors of Afghan society.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told CNN on Sunday: "We are trying our best to push them, to stress on them the importance of acting and behaving as an engaging party over there, as part of Afghan society."

He said that the Taliban needed to agree to form a government where "everybody is represented".

"We need to engage [different parties] on a peaceful resolution… a format of power-sharing where everybody is represented - protecting minority rights, protecting basic human rights for the people – [rights for] women, the right to education, all these things," Al-Thani told CNN.

"This is what Qatar is standing for."

Al-Thani said he did not know yet whether the Taliban would agree to these proposals.

"We cannot predict what their reaction will be until they come back to us with a clear answer," he told the US broadcaster.

"We didn't sense from them a rejection of these ideas that we put forward for them but we also didn't hear from them any acceptance."

There are widespread fears that the Taliban will re-impose the harsh interpretation of Islamic sharia law that the movement applied the first time they ruled Afghanistan, between 1996 and 2001.

This included amputations, public executions, and floggings, and severe restrictions on women's dress, movement, and education.

The Taliban have given conflicting signals regarding this, saying that their movement has evolved and that they are willing to share power and respect women's rights "according to sharia", but ruled out the formation of a democratic government.

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Qatar is currently helping facilitate the evacuation of desperate people from Kabul Airport and Al-Thani said he expected the evacuations to continue "for a week or two".

At least 20 people have been killed in stampedes and shootings amid chaotic scenes at the airport.

Following the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, Afghan government forces collapsed much sooner than expected, allowing the Taliban to swiftly take over major cities including the capital Kabul.

Answering a question from CNN about whether Qatar regretted its role in facilitating peace talks between Washington and the Taliban, which led to the US withdrawal, Al Thani said: "I think this will never happen for us as long as what we are doing is with good faith as a country, to save lives of people. Even we save a single life, we will be trying this way."