On Friday, the US and Qatar announced an agreement allowing Qatar to represent US diplomatic interests in Afghanistan, signaling the possibility of future direct contact between the US and the Taliban after two decades of conflict.
After having negotiations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Qatari counterpart, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, signed an agreement designating Qatar as the US’s “protecting power” in Afghanistan.
“Qatar will establish a US interest section within its embassy in Afghanistan to provide certain consular services and monitor the condition and security of US diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan,” Blinken said.
The decision will bolster ties between Washington and the Gulf monarchy, which has built tight links with the Taliban by holding the rebels’ only official headquarters outside of Afghanistan and by playing a crucial part in the discussions that led to the 2020 pact for US military withdrawal this year.
The accord comes as the US and other Western countries try to figure out how to deal with the Taliban who gained control of Afghanistan in a rapid advance in August, just as US-led forces were wrapping up their withdrawal.
According to the new agreement, which takes effect on December 31, Qatar will commit employees from its embassy in Afghanistan to a US Interests Section and will work closely with the US State Department and the US mission in Doha.