US-Taliban peace talks myth: negotiation or capitulation?

Hamid Karzai (AFP Photo / Shah Marai)
Preparing to pull the plug on a decade-long skirmish in Afghanistan, the US has made claims that it is scheduling peace talks with the Taliban to expedite the end of the war. Overseas, however, others say that’s just smoke and mirrors.

Despite US insistence that they are planning peace talks with the Taliban, the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan is shutting down the notion that these negotiations are occurring. Instead, Umar Daudzai is saying the efforts thus far are only “exploratory.”

"I must emphasize that word 'exploratory'. They are not talks," Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Umar Daudzai tells Reuters. "When there's talks, it's supposed to be between the Afghan government and the Taliban. We have not reached to that stage although we wish to reach to that stage."

The news from Pakistan comes despite a recent interview with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in which the leader assured the Wall Street Journal that the US and the Taliban have begun an underground, three-way discussion on the matter. Daudzai, on the other hand, insists that the talk of alleged dialogue between parties is  exaggerated.

For months now, rumors have persisted involving the opening of a Taliban office outside of Afghanistan in the nation of Qatar that will allow the rogue government a locale to have peace talks with other parties.

"At a high level, (there are) secret talks and American-Taliban talks. I'm not aware of any other than the Qatar process," Daudzai tells Reuters.

"The Qatar process is exploratory contacts between Taliban and the United States."

Since discussions detailing the opening of an office in Qatar have begun, other news involving the Afghan War has come out of Washington.

Since expressing interest in having the Taliban open an office, the US has changes its military plan for Afghanistan, with hopes of exiting the country sooner than once thought. Additionally, sources have suggested that the US will free a handful of Taliban captives that are currently held at the American-run military base at Guantanamo Bay.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer from the Center for Advanced Defense Studies told RT last month that the move to speed up peace talks with the Taliban appeared as a last-ditch effort finally end a war that has yielded few positive results. “I think the idea of releasing these individuals without an idea of what we're getting in return is not really a good idea and I think it's almost an act of desperation,” said Shaffer.

Despite the US Department of Defense’s recent announcement of ending the Afghan War upwards of a year early, however, the latest info out of Pakistan would suggest that the finale of the gunfire between the US and Taliban is a lot of smoke and mirrors. Although President Krazai insists that talks are on the table, his own ambassador to Pakistan tells Reuters that any discussions between Afghan and the Taliban are limited to talks between low-level officials and small-time insurgent commanders.