Just when it seemed like all the sides were ready to come together to finally end the Afghanistan war, suddenly no one is talking to anyone and peace could not seem farther away. Less than a month after opening a diplomatic office to further the cause of a settlement, the Taliban announced they have shut down their Qatar outpost and cut off all meetings on the subject. Meanwhile, a "frustrated" Barack Obama is threatening to end all U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, thanks to a relationship with President Hamid Karzai that is "slowly unraveling."
Not only are the enemies —the Taliban and the Afghan government that replaced them — unwilling to talk now, the attempt to even start peace negotiations have driven the supposed allies even further apart. After the Taliban opened their Qatar office, Karzai's government accused the U.S. of going behind their back in an attempt to negotiate a separate peace. It didn't help that the Taliban office deployed a flag and title identifying themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the name they ruled under before the 2001 invasion by the United States. (The uproar over the flag was the reason the Taliban gave for closing the office.) A video conference meant to smooth things over between Obama and Karzai "ended badly," according to The New York Times, leading to the report — or some say bargaining ploy — that Obama is now contemplating removing all forces from Afghanistan after 2014, including a planned security force that was expected to remain behind.
The complicated three-way negotiations have become stuck in the mud as the U.S. is trying to both withdraw itself from the country at the same time it brokers a peace deal with the remaining players. The plan has long been for a small American force to remain to behind to assist the Afghan government with security (and deter a Taliban revolt), but with the clock ticking on the removal of the rest of American forces no agreement is forthcoming. And despite talk of a truce or an end to the fighting, the Taliban hasn't let up on their attacks, not even with the start of the holy month of Ramadan. You can probably expect this frustrating back-and-forth to continue indefinitely, much like the war that spawned.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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