Kabul -

34 years ago, during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, I signed the Geneva Agreement that preceded the withdrawal of the Russians from Afghanistan in 1989, but that agreement did not lead to the stability of Afghanistan, and the cycle of war continued in it.

After about 3 decades and after 18 years of American occupation and political and military changes in the Afghan scene, another agreement was signed in Doha between the United States and the Taliban movement on February 29, 2020, after which the United States withdrew from Afghanistan and the expansion of the Taliban movement accelerated in Afghan territory until it took control of the country. The ruling was issued on August 15 last, so what are the similarities between the two agreements?

And what are its consequences?

The United States’ negotiations with the Taliban movement began in 2008 during the era of former US President Barack Obama, when the movement entered the negotiations at the direct instigation of the late founder of the movement, Mullah Muhammad Omar.

According to the former head of the Political Bureau, Tayeb Agha, 5 of the movement’s leaders were aware of the Americans’ meeting with the Taliban representative under Qatari and German mediation in the German city of Munich in 2008, but the meeting of the two parties did not produce tangible results.

Those were the first contacts, and American endeavors continued, as a security source in the previous government told Al Jazeera Net, "The United States tried to sit with the Taliban in the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 in order to achieve peace in Afghanistan, but it failed in all of those attempts due to poor coordination between Washington and the Government of Former Kabul, and the loss of good coordination between the US Departments of Defense and State on Afghanistan."

When Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour assumed the leadership of the Taliban movement, he allowed the start of direct negotiations between the former Afghan government and the Taliban movement, and the two parties to the conflict sat in 2016 in the Marri resort near the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, with American and Chinese participation, but Mansour’s assassination on May 21, 2016 in an American bombing near The Iran-Pakistan border stopped everything.

After the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America in 2017, negotiations between the Taliban and Washington entered a new phase and efforts resumed again, and the US administration appointed Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad - who is of Afghan origin - as a special envoy to Afghanistan.

Peace Path in Doha

Direct negotiations between Washington and the Taliban movement began in July 2018, when US officials secretly met with members of the movement's political office in Doha for an agreement that guarantees a safe withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, which is confirmed by many former officials that negotiations between the Taliban and Washington were seeking to withdraw. Not for the sake of peace in Afghanistan.

Which was emphasized by the former Afghan Defense Minister Shah Mahmoud to Al Jazeera Net, by saying, "We can describe the Doha Agreement as a copy of the Geneva Agreement, where the former fighters (jihadist movements) did not participate in the Geneva negotiations, and the former Afghan government was not a party to the negotiations between Washington and the Taliban. "The two agreements - Doha and Geneva - paved the way for the withdrawal of both Soviet and American forces from Afghanistan, and did not contribute to bringing peace to it," he said.

The name of Doha has been associated with Afghanistan and its conflict, after 4 decades of international conflict in Afghanistan and following those secret meetings in 2018, and on February 25, 2019, representatives from the Taliban and the United States met for the first time officially, within the framework of the peace negotiations that were held in the Qatari capital.

The researcher in international relations, Mushtaq Rahim, says that the State of Qatar has provided an important opportunity to launch the path of peace in Afghanistan, but the Afghan government and the Taliban have not been able to take full advantage of this opportunity.

And Rahim adds, speaking to Al Jazeera Net, "Unfortunately, things have come to what we have reached now, and unfortunately the US administration was not at the heart of one man regarding Afghan reconciliation," and instead of the Doha agreement leading to a political partnership between the various Afghan forces - including the Taliban - The previous government fell with an unexpected control of the Taliban movement over the entire Afghan lands, including Kabul, and the consequent problem of no country in the world recognizing a government led by the movement so far.

The withdrawal of the former Soviet Union from Afghanistan on May 15, 1988 was within the framework of the Geneva Agreement signed between it and the United States on the one hand, and Afghanistan represented by the government of Dr. Najibullah and Pakistan on the other hand, with the aim of reaching a political solution to end a 10-year war. The Soviet Army to leave Afghan territory in return for stopping the delivery of arms to the Afghans by the American and Pakistani governments.

On this, the former Afghan Defense Minister Shah Mahmoud told Al Jazeera Net, "After the Geneva Agreement, the Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan, and three years later the communist government headed by Najibullah, which was supported by the Soviets, collapsed, and Afghanistan entered into a maze of civil wars."

On the other hand, months after the signing of the Doha agreement, US and foreign forces left Afghanistan, after which the former Afghan political system and its forces collapsed within only 11 days, and the Taliban movement took control.

Similarities between the two agreements

Here, the observer of the Afghan issue will find many similarities between the peace agreement signed between the United States of America and the Taliban movement in Doha and the one that was signed in Geneva and paved the way for the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in the late eighties of the last century. The Geneva negotiations began on June 16, 1982, with the mediation of the United Nations. Between the parties are Washington, Moscow, Kabul and Islamabad at the headquarters of the United Nations and ended on April 14, 1988, that is, it lasted 6 years, during which 12 rounds took place.

As for the Doha agreement, it was concluded after 10 rounds, and the Doha track negotiations lasted for only about a year and a half, and there was hope among many Afghan political forces and groups of people that the Doha track would open the way to direct negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban, but that did not happen.

By comparing the two negotiation tracks that took place during 4 decades of the Afghan conflict, similarities can be seen. Prior to the start of the recent negotiations, most of the Afghan territories witnessed a military escalation by Taliban militants, and the movement managed to control most of the main roads, villages and countryside, and this is a repetition of what happened before the negotiations Geneva. The Geneva negotiations came after the Soviet Union failed to resolve the conflict militarily with the former "jihadist organizations." The Russians decided to resort to negotiation, and the same applies to the United States.

The Soviet Army withdrew from Afghanistan 34 years ago, according to the Geneva Convention (websites)

On the other hand, while the "jihadist organizations" were absent from the Geneva negotiations, the Pakistani government participated on its behalf. As for the Doha track, the case of the previous Afghan government headed by Muhammad Ashraf Ghani was different, as it was not present in the negotiations between Washington and the Taliban in Doha.

On the other hand, former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev and former US President Donald Trump opposed the war, and called for the withdrawal of their countries' forces from Afghanistan.

Regarding the results of the Soviet and American withdrawals after the two agreements, after the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan, the Soviets did not evacuate the former Afghan forces, because they continued to resist the seven “jihadist organizations,” and Najibullah’s government continued to fight for three years before it fell.

These organizations entered the capital, Kabul, in 1992, and 29 years later, the Afghan army collapsed in the government of former President Ashraf Ghani within only 11 days, during which the Taliban movement controlled the rest of the lands and provinces of Afghanistan, and the United States evacuated a large number of generals and leaders of the Afghan army.

Between Geneva and Doha: axes and stages

The similarity between the Geneva and Doha negotiations shows that both agreements were in two phases and with 4 axes:

Doha agreement:

  • The first item: The start of direct negotiations between the United States and the Taliban.

  • The second item: setting a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

  • The third item: The start of direct negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement.

  • The fourth item: the cease-fire in Afghanistan.

Geneva Agreement:

  • The first item: The signing of an agreement between the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan that guarantees non-interference in the internal affairs of the other party.

  • The second item: an agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States of America not to support groups fighting each other on Afghan soil.

  • The third item: Agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan regarding the return of refugees.

  • Fourth item: Signing of an agreement between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and the Soviet Union to determine the period of withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan.

The difference between the two agreements is in the outcome

The Geneva Convention on Afghanistan was stillborn, and the UN mediator at the time, Binan Siwan, was unable to peacefully transfer power to the former fighters of the "jihadist organizations" at the end of the nineties of the last century, and did not solve the refugee problem, and the Pakistani government and the United States continued to support the fighters to overthrow the Najibullah government and after drop it.

Afghanistan entered into a cycle of civil war between the leaders of the parties or "jihadist organizations", and it continued until the emergence of the Taliban movement in the Afghan scene in 1996, and the university professor and Deir Safi told Al Jazeera Net, "One of the reasons for the outbreak of the civil war in Afghanistan is the failure of the Geneva negotiations, and the refusal of the fighters' leaders The former would enter into direct negotiations with Najibullah's government.

On the other hand, what distinguishes the Doha agreement between the United States and the Taliban movement is that they sat at the negotiating table away from the mediators, and agreed on the broad outlines of the agreement, and despite the Afghans' concern about the future, the war stopped at least after the Taliban movement came to power.

On this, writer and political researcher Hikmat Jalil says to Al-Jazeera Net that "the outgoing Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's exit in this picture mixed many papers, but he prevented the outbreak of a civil war in the capital, Kabul, when he preferred to leave rather than stay."