U-turn in Kabul: The Afghan government wants to release three high-ranking Taliban prisoners. This explained President Ashraf Ghani at a press conference. Among them was Anas Hakkani, the younger brother of the leader of the Hakkani network and vice-chief of the Taliban, Siradschuddin Hakkani.
The condition for the release is reported to be that the Taliban released two professors abducted by them who worked at the American University in Kabul. This would also explain the change of mind of the Afghan government: Only at the end of October had a spokesman for the presidential palace declared that Hakkani's release was a red line for the government and the people of Afghanistan.
The two professors, the American Kevin King and his Australian colleague Timothy Weeks, were abducted in August 2016 by the radical Islamists in Kabul. In a statement issued in 2017, the kidnappers said that King has heart and kidney problems.
At least twice had been tried in commando actions to free the two professors, but the special forces have missed the hostages each just barely. In a video in September, Aussie Weeks asked the US government for help: "If we stay here longer, we'll be killed, I do not want to die here."
The American University in Afghanistan said Tuesday that the latest news is "encouraging".
Hakkani network is behind the plot in front of the German embassy stuck
Ghani spoke at the press conference of a "difficult but important" decision. It also aims to pave the way for personal and direct talks with the Taliban for peace and stability. So far, the radical Islamists have refused to initiate direct peace talks with the government, which they regard as a "puppet" of the West. A spokesman for the militia said that they would soon be making their own statement.
The Hakkani Network is part of the Taliban and responsible for some of the most brutal attacks in Afghanistan. According to German security circles, the network was also behind the heavy attack in front of the German Embassy in Kabul in May 2017. At that time, at least 90 people were killed and several hundred injured.
According to observers, the release could also help restart the US-Taliban peace talks that ended in September. At the same time, the Hakkani wing could be convinced of new talks about a solution to the Afghanistan conflict.
US President Donald Trump declared talks with the Taliban "dead" in September, shortly before an agreement was announced. The trigger was an attack in Kabul in which a US soldier died. Recently, targeted killings and minor attacks on security forces have taken place in the Afghan capital.