On 12 September, for the first time ever, there were direct, public talks between representatives of the Afghan government and of the Taliban.
The Taliban, a Sunni fundamentalist movement, ruled Afghanistan from 1996–2001 and currently control about half the country.
The peace talks in Doha, Qatar, follow a US-Taliban agreement in February which has led to the steady withdrawal of US troops. Where there were 12,000 in January, there will only be 4,500 US personnel in Afghanistan by November, when the US presidential election will be held.
The government-Taliban talks were meant to have taken place in March, but were held up until the government released 5,000 Taliban prisoners, and the Taliban freed 1,000 government prisoners.
The Afghan Analysts Network reported in August that: ‘2020 has been as violent in Afghanistan as 2019, despite the peace process and the coronavirus pandemic.’
The difference is that the US is now playing ‘a minimal direct role’ and the Taliban have stopped attacking foreign forces.