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Talking With The Taliban

The drama over talking with the Taliban.

Qatari Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Ali bin Fahd al-Hajri, center right, and Jan Mohammad Madani, center left, one of the Taliban officials cut the ribbon at the official opening ceremony of a Taliban office in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, June 18, 2013. (Osama Faisal/AP)

Qatari Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Ali bin Fahd al-Hajri, center right, and Jan Mohammad Madani, center left, one of the Taliban officials, cut the ribbon at the official opening ceremony of a Taliban office in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, June 18, 2013. (Osama Faisal/AP)

It sounded too good to be true — and it was.  The United States, the Taliban, maybe the Kabul government eventually, sitting down to talk peace in Afghanistan.

Now it’s all blown up — for the moment.

Hamid Karzai’s Kabul government is in a rage over the Taliban acting like they own the place. The Taliban is more than happy to act like they own the place or will.  The United States is almost unseemly in its need for a deal with the Taliban that will help it get out — but not completely out — of Afghanistan.  Meanwhile, the bloodletting goes on.

This hour, On Point: The inside scoop on talking with the Taliban.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Rod Nordland, foreign correspondent for the New York Times, based in Afghanistan. (@rodnordland)

Ioannis Koskinas, a ormer military officer for over 20 years who now focuses on economic development projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While in the Air Force, he served as Afghanistan-Pakistan senior policy advisor and special advisor to Gen. Stanley McChrystal. He is currently the executive vice president of Asia-Africa Projects Group in Afghanistan. He recently wrote the article “Reconciliation Foolosophy: Fishing Without Bait.”

Daniel Markey, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, specializing in security and governance issues in South Asia.

From Tom’s Reading List

The White House: Background Briefing By Senior Administration Officials On Afghanistan — “Today is an important day for our ongoing effort in Afghanistan for two purposes. In Bagram, last year, the President laid out a strategy for Afghanistan and how we could responsibly and successfully end the war there that had five pillars. And two key pillars of that strategy were the ongoing transition of security responsibility to the Afghans and the pursuit of a political process that allows Afghans to reconcile with one another after so many years of war.”

Foreign Policy: Afghanistan: NATO’s Mission Impossible — “The Taliban announcement that they are going ahead with opening their political office in Qatar, as a base from which they can dialogue with all and sundry, is an important development. It is also one which has been a long time in coming. No one should underestimate the amount of diplomatic effort which has gone into making this happen.”

The Guardian: The Taliban’s Qatar Office Is A Positive Step, But Not A Prologue To Peace — “The Karzai-Obama declaration in January, the Cameron-Karzai-Zardari Chequers summit in February and the Kerry-Karzai-Kayani meeting in Brussels in April have all focused on getting the Taliban back to the negotiating table — from which they walked away in March last year. In the end, the formula was quite simple. The Taliban declared they they would not want anyone else to use the soil of Afghanistan to hurt another country. For the moment, the US team seems happy to read this as code for ‘we shall not let international terrorists back in.'”

Video

Screenshot from an Al Jazeera news segment on the planned negotiations between the Taliban and the United States. Click to watch the full video and read the news report. (Al Jazeera)

Screenshot from an Al Jazeera segment on the planned negotiations between the Taliban and the United States. Click to watch the full video and read the report. (Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera reports:

U.S. officials sounded a cautious but optimistic note about this Taliban office in Doha.

[Secretary of State John Kerry:] “It’s good news. We’re very pleased with what’s taken place.”

That’s not what the president of Afghanistan thought because of this sign, announcing a kind of headquarters for the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the  name of the country when the Taliban was in charge.

Hamid Karzai has suspended all talks — not just with the Taliban, but with the United States as well.

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