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…and reappears again

April 23, 2014

Summary: Supposed Taliban negotiator, Agha Jan Mutasim, has re-emerged after disappearing in the UAE (perhaps under some form of house arrest) – now seen in Kabul.  This suggests some form of talks, but extreme caution should be appplied before expecting any progress with dialogue.

Seemingly Agha Jan Mutasim has re-emerged back in Kabul:

ISLAMABAD: Dissident Afghan Taliban leader Mutasim Agha Jan, who was put under house arrest by UAE authorities this month following his talks with Afghan negotiators in Dubai, has arrived in Kabul after President Hamid Karzai intervened to secure his release, a former Taliban leader said Sunday.

Talking to The Express Tribune from Kabul, the Taliban leader, who is privy to the development, said Agha Jan reached the Afghan capital on Saturday evening. Officials have avoided officially confirming the Taliban dissident’s arrival in Kabul due to security concerns.

Agha Jan’s friends in Dubai and sources in his family had earlier said he was picked up by UAE authorities. The Afghan government later confirmed Agha Jan was put under house arrest.

Afghan officials said President Karzai, who had welcomed Agha Jan’s initiative, had contacted the UAE and had asked for his release. The presidential palace, in an angry reaction, described the Taliban dissident’s detention as a step to foil peace efforts in Afghanistan.

and also:

KABUL (WNA-April.20, 2014): Former Taliban minister of finance and recent peace broker, Agha Jan Mutasim late on Saturday had arrived in Kabul and was taken to an unknown place under tight security plan, an official on condition of anonymity said Sunday.

The key Taliban peace member was said to have been carried by a car without number-plate, said the source.

The man, however rejected by the key Taliban group, is making efforts to deal peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The Taliban’s key leadership is not seen to be tended of such a deal brokered by Mutasim, as they rejected if Agha Jan could represent the key rebels’ leadership (Emirate Islami).

He left for United Arab Emirates (UAE) two weeks ago and was expected to start the deal, but put under house confinement, by the Arab government and he was apparently expelled.

Mutasim was lodged in a Dubai Flight Company Jet’s VIP position and suddenly taken into a car without number-plate to a special location.

Which seems to suggest some form of talks might be underway but it is very hard to tell and extreme caution should be applied.  I would shy away from calling this progress but more likely this is some form of ongoing effort to engage in dialogue with the Taliban.  So much of this has come to nothing in the past but we need at least to be aware of manouevres continuing behind the scenes over the years and months even when nothing seems to be happening.  The Taliban will continue to try to ensure that anything that does happen is deniable (until it suits them).

However, I would be surprised if the enthusiastic participation of the Afghan population (photos of the long queues to vote) in the presidential election has had no impact whatsoever on Taliban thinking.

Watch and wait.

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