Taliban Cancels Peace Talks with U.S. over Potential Involvement of Afghanistan

Representatives of the Taliban attend international talks on Afghanistan in Moscow on November 9, 2018. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP) (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)
YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images

The Taliban on Tuesday called off scheduled peace negotiations with American officials in Qatar this week over “agenda differences,” particularly the involvement of officials from the Afghan government, a truce requested by U.S.-backed Kabul, and a prisoner exchange the Taliban demanded.

Afghan Taliban sources told Reuters that they had planned on a new round of peace talks with the U.S. to begin Wednesday. The Taliban jihadis stressed that they would not allow “puppet” Afghan officials to participate.

“The U.S. officials insisted that the Taliban should meet the Afghan authorities in Qatar and both sides were in disagreement over declaring a ceasefire in 2019,” an anonymous Taliban source told Reuters, adding, “Both sides have agreed to not meet in Qatar.”

The Taliban terrorist organization considers itself the only legitimate government of Afghanistan, though no other nation grants it such recognition.

On Sunday, Reuters learned from its Taliban sources that the group requested to change the venue of the planned talks with the United States from Saudi Arabia to Qatar over Riyadh’s push to include the Afghan government in the negotiations.

Qatar, which houses the Taliban’s political headquarters, has long hosted and legitimized political leaders from the terrorist organization

Citing an unnamed high-ranking Taliban insurgent, Reuters noted Monday, “The talks, which would have been the fourth round with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, would have involved a U.S. withdrawal, prisoner exchange and the lifting of a ban on movement of Taliban leaders.”

Reuters learned from its Taliban sources that the United States refused the terrorist group’s demand that American authorities liberate 25,000 prisoners in exchange for 3,000 hostages allegedly held by the jihadi organization.

“We would never announce any ceasefire until and unless we achieve major gains on the ground. We have the feeling that Zalmay Khalilzad doesn’t have enough power to make important decisions,” an unnamed Taliban jihadi told Reuters.

The news outlet acknowledged that the U.S. government has yet to comment on the meeting’s cancellation.

“The Taliban said Khalilzad would visit the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and China to continue the discussion,” Reuters noted, adding, “Khalilzad’s office [a component of the U.S. Department of State] was not available for comment.”

Taliban terrorists have long refused to participate in negotiations with Kabul, dismissing the government as illegitimate. The group has rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s unconditional U.S.-backed offer of a ceasefire and official recognition as a legitimate political group.

To the delight of the Taliban, the U.S. is negotiating directly with the group as part of American President Donald Trump’s intensified efforts to end the more than 17-year-old conflict.

The Trump administration has made “political reconciliation” between the Taliban and Kabul the primary tenet of its strategy to end the war, conceding the United States will not see a military victory in the South Asian nation.

Taliban terrorists, fighting to restore strict Islamic law, or sharia, in Afghanistan, control or contest large swathes of the country. According to a U.S. watchdog agency, terrorist groups, primarily the Taliban, control or contest about 45 percent of Afghanistan.

In late 2001, U.S. troops removed the Taliban regime from power. However, Trump administration officials have come out in support of a ceasefire and re-legitimizing the Taliban as an official political power.

The Taliban generates most of its funding from trafficking heroin. Although most of the illicit narcotics in the U.S. mainly originates in Latin America,  Afghan heroin is also reportedly fueling the unprecedented fatal drug overdose epidemic that has killed tens of thousands.

Known as the longest foreign military engagement in U.S. history, the Afghan war has come at a heavy cost to Americans — nearly $1 trillion, more than 2,270 American military deaths, and over 20,400 injuries.

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