The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Saudi’s crucial role in Afghan peace talks

After 2001, many of regional countries considered the Taliban as a terrorist group because they committed human crimes against civilians with disregarding international law. When Taliban took over the power, three regional countries (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates) recognized the government of Taliban. 
Following the September 11th incident and the United States’ decision to overthrow the Taliban’s regime, they were forced to desist from supporting Taliban and joined the US front to fight against terrorism. As the Afghan peace talks have accelerated in recent months, some regional countries have become more generous to host the Afghan peace process than others.
The war in Afghanistan has raged for nearly two decades and all countries in the region have vested interests in a final resolution of the conflict. What has become increasingly clear over the years is that the road to peace in Afghanistan goes through the Arab Gulf states which maintain special relationships with both the US and an array of actors in the war-torn country, including the Taliban.
To seek Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with the Afghan peace process, President Ghani leading a high-level state delegation on Saturday left Kabul for Saudi for an official visit. The president is expected to meet King Salman and other officials of the hosting country during the visit. The president will also perform Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah city, the presidential palace said in a statement.
Given the obstacles that the Taliban and the US will likely confront at the negotiating table, Saudi Arabia, has an opportunity to bolster the peace process started by Qatar. In fact, the Gulf’s regional powers are already flexing their diplomatic muscles in this regard. Just last year, American and Taliban officials participated in a Pakistani-organized tête-à-tête in Abu Dhabi. For its part, Saudi Arabia praised the Abu Dhabi meeting and tried to host its own earlier this year.
Although world powers such as China and Russia can do much to facilitate the shaky US-Taliban negotiations, Saudi Arabia’s unique influence and leverage enable them to bolster the steady groundwork laid by Qatar. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s peace process also offers Riyadh and the regional countries a chance to improve their global reputations, especially in the West.
Since Mohammed bin Salman was appointed as Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince in June 2017, the Saudi monarchy has stepped up its criticisms of countries that continue to provide financial support, military aid, or diplomatic legitimacy to the Taliban. This shift in policy can be explained by Riyadh’s desire to align its policies more closely with U.S. efforts to cut the Taliban off from international sponsors.
Playing a greater role in Afghanistan peace efforts would offer Saudi Arabia and Qatar to once again revive their relations. Qatar now hosts the Taliban’s political office, where militant representatives have met with Western officials and other parties.
Saudi Arabia also has close relations with Pakistan, which in turn has deep ties with the Taliban, whose leaders have taken shelter in the neighboring country for decades.
It is hoped that President’s visit to bear positive results and encourage the Saudi government to further take steps in ending the decades-long war in Afghanistan.

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.