More evidence surfaced Tuesday that the Trump administration will pressure allies in the Middle East to close the Taliban’s “political office” in Doha, Qatar.
The office, which serves as the terrorist group’s “embassy” reportedly has found itself in the sights of President Donald Trump himself in recent months. A new report by Fox News Tuesday quotes multiple U.S. State Department and Afghan government officials suggesting the office’s days may be numbered.
“A U.S. State Department official told Fox News to ‘stay tuned’ in the matter but noted that, if the office does close, the announcement won’t likely come from the U.S,” the report reads.
Meanwhile, Afghan intelligence official Sunraise Kabuli was highly critical of the office’s existence, telling Fox News, “The Taliban considered the Qatar office political recognition for them and they erected the Islamic Emirate flag there. The office was supposed to be about ending violence, but years after opening, it is used for fundraising and running private businesses.”
The office was established with the permission of the Afghan government in 2013, reportedly under pressure from the Obama administration. The decision to allow the office, now home to twenty-something Taliban officials and their families, was met with fury from within the government of then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai, members of whom saw it as a massive capitulation to the enemy sworn to destroy their state.
Breitbart News’ Joel Pollak was also highly critical of the office as a piece of President Barack Obama’s Afghan strategy, calling it a “surrender” and an “embassy” allowing ” the Taliban [to] re-establish its legitimacy–and, now, to portray itself as a government-in-exile.”
In fact, the Taliban had done their best to portray the office as an embassy for an alternate Afghan state, flying their white and black flag and referring to it as the “Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” until U.S. and Qatari pressure forced a change. The Taliban has, however, never ceased trying to create the same impression of legitimacy, sending, for example, five “delegates” from the Qatar office to meet with Chinese government officials in Beijing this year.
State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the Qatar Taliban office is “under consideration right now” in a briefing this month. Fox News reports that the continued existence of the office is a topic of negotiation as Secretary of State Tillerson and U.S. State Department officials make their tour of the region. The ultimate decision on the Taliban presence, however, lies with the Qatari government who, despite close ties with the American military, have a long history of providing a safe harbor for the political offices of Islamist groups.