Taliban offers to swap US soldier for Gitmo prisoners

posted at 9:21 am on June 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The Associated Press reported as an “exclusive” earlier this morning that the Taliban have offered to release an American held for almost four years in a swap for Taliban members at Guantanamo Bay.  The offer comes as the US tries to salvage the peace talks after pushback from Kabul:

The Afghan Taliban say they are ready to hand over a U.S. soldier held captive since 2009 in exchange for five of their senior operatives being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

A Taliban spokesman, Shaheen Suhail, says U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “is as far as I know in good condition.” …

Shaheen says “first has to be the release of detainees,” and after that, the Taliban “want to build bridges of confidence.”

If they want to build “bridges of confidence,” perhaps they should stop burning them first.  After a hopeful opening exchange with the Hamid Karzai government, the Taliban provoked Karzai by casting its Qatar office as an official embassy of Afghanistan.  Karzai now refuses to negotiate with the Taliban:

Hopes dimmed for talks aimed at ending the Afghan war when an angry President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday suspended security negotiations with the U.S. and scuttled a peace delegation to the Taliban, sending American officials scrambling to preserve the possibility of dialogue with the militants.

What provoked the mercurial Karzai and infuriated many other Afghans was a move by the Taliban to cast their new office in the Gulf nation of Qatar as a rival embassy. The Taliban held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday in which they hoisted their flag and a banner with the name they used while in power more than a decade ago: “Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” …

An American official, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to disclose the information, said he still expects to have the first public meeting with Taliban representatives in the next few days in Qatar but that no exact meeting date has been set.

Secretary of State John Kerry tried to woo Karzai back as Qatar conducted some damage control by demanding changes at the Taliban office.  Karzai still isn’t budging, though:

“The secretary spoke with President Karzai last night and again this morning,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at a daily briefing in Washington.

“The secretary reiterated the fact that we do not recognize the name Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. … He noted that the government of Qatar has taken steps today to ensure that the political office is in compliance with the conditions established by the government of Qatar for its operations, and noted also that we are pleased that the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement clarifying that the name of the office is the Political Office of the Afghan Taliban and not the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and has had the sign with the incorrect name in front of the door taken down.”

She added the Taliban office “must not be treated as or represent itself as an embassy or other office representing the Afghan Taliban as an emirate government or sovereign.”

The publicly-made prisoner exchange offer, then, comes as extra motivation for the US to put pressure on Karzai.  The Taliban want the peace talks in order to get the West out of the way, while Karzai wants … the West out of the way, too, for the most part.  In fact, Karzai wants the West out of the negotiations altogether now:

Afghanistan’s president says he will not pursue peace talks with the Taliban unless the United States steps out of the negotiations and the militant group stops its violent attacks on the ground.

Hamid Karzai is upset over a U.S. and Taliban announcement the day before that they would begin preliminary peace talks in Qatar without the Afghan government.

According to a statement from Karzai’s office, he says that his High Peace Council would “neither attend nor participate in the talks” until the process is “completely” in the hands of Afghans.

That’s not going to work, though, because the US is a combatant in the war and holds prisoners that will have to get swapped eventually at the end of hostilities.  Karzai’s demand is obstructionist in that sense, but also practical, as he likely fears that the US will offer more concessions than Karzai can withstand in order to achieve peace in our timeto use a phrase with specific historical overtones.  The best way to prevent that is to push the US out of the talks, but that’s impossible.  If nothing else, though, the demand sets a marker for Karzai that he’d be happy to bail out any time the US makes life impossible for Kabul.

In the end, there is little choice but to negotiate an end to the war.  Unlike al-Qaeda, the Taliban are an integral part of Afghanistan as leaders of the Pashtun plurality.  The war in Afghanistan in the post-Soviet era has been both religious and tribal, with no possibility of ultimate victory for either side.  We’re not negotiating an end to the civil war so much as an end to our part of it, by getting assurances that the Taliban won’t cooperate with terrorism outside of their borders again.  The rest will be up to the Afghans.

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Well, it sure is a good thing the USA doesn’t negotiate with terrorists! Uh….well….uh….

cww on June 20, 2013 at 9:28 AM

We’re not negotiating an end to the civil war so much as an end to our part of it, by getting assurances that the Taliban won’t cooperate with terrorism outside of their borders again. The rest will be up to the Afghans.

At any rate, it is going to be fun seeing our terrorist loving Demonrats defending freeing our enemies like this.

Happy Nomad on June 20, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Here’s the deal Taliban. I’ll swap you 0 for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl . Deal?

Bmore on June 20, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Wait… What???

I haven’t heard on the networks that they are holding a hostage.

Didn’t Jimmy Carter do something like this?

faraway on June 20, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Here’s the deal Taliban. I’ll swap you 0 for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl . Deal?

Bmore on June 20, 2013 at 9:32 AM

I’d even be willing to send them 5 body bags.

Fenris on June 20, 2013 at 9:37 AM

No trades. None.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is an American soldier. Not some terrorist rabble, One Bergdahl is worth far far more than all the Muzzies in Gitmo…all the Mohammedans in all the Middle East, for that matter.

Here’s the deal…surrender Bergdahl immediately…intact…healthy, hail and hearty, immediately..or you will find that the Abbottabad Raid was merely practice.

We know where you are…surrender Bergdahl or you die..all of you…starting with the Qatar “legation.” Every eff’in leader of the Taliban will die, within the week. And every new “leader” or even novice member, as well, for as long as it takes. You choice.

Then do it.

If we had “leadership” here at home that was as concerned for American citizens as it seems to be concerned about non-citizens, and even those sworn to destroy us all…

Had we done so in the beginning, instead of being worried about cultural issues or not offending anyone, anywhere, ever…the problem would long ago have been solved.

coldwarrior on June 20, 2013 at 9:41 AM

In a related issue, turns out that the FBI deputy director and Gen Keith Alexander were lying their asses off yet again when they said that snooping had thwarted an attack on the NYSE. Turns out it was a complete lie even if you want to give the NSA credit for “thwarting” something that never left the planning stage.

And then crap weasels like Alexander, Clapper, and the rat-eared coward wonder why the public has no trust in their government.

Happy Nomad on June 20, 2013 at 9:44 AM

GPS Chip the JihadyGoons,
then personalize each Is
lamicTeorristNut with a Hell
-Fire!!

Do the swap,and ASAP and Expedite them
(the TerroristGoons) to their 72 Virgins
at the leisure of the Drone Pilots!

canopfor on June 20, 2013 at 9:50 AM

I would toss in 11 million illegals, just to show our good faith.

hillsoftx on June 20, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Crap,I did s/p boo-boo,

thats IslamicTerroristNut,not….

IslamicTeorristNut!!

canopfor on June 20, 2013 at 9:55 AM

We need peace with the taliban so they can help us out in Syria and Iran.

abobo on June 20, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Give us our soldier back or will start blowing the snot out of all the mosques in the middle east. End of negotiations.

Deano1952 on June 20, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Secretary of State John Kerry tried to woo Karzai back as Qatar conducted some damage control by demanding changes at the Taliban office. Karzai still isn’t budging, though:

“The secretary spoke with President Karzai last night and again this morning,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at a daily briefing in Washington.

“The secretary reiterated the fact that we do not recognize the name Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. … He noted that the government of Qatar has taken steps today to ensure that the political office is in compliance with the conditions established by the government of Qatar for its operations, and noted also that we are pleased that the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement clarifying that the name of the office is the Political Office of the Afghan Taliban and not the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and has had the sign with the incorrect name in front of the door taken down.”

She added the Taliban office “must not be treated as or represent itself as an embassy or other office representing the Afghan Taliban as an emirate government or sovereign.”

Karzai has most likely figured out that every promise made by this President has a built-in expiration date. And that he and his radical-academic cronies are enmeshed in a fatal romance with the mystical East, which they see the Taliban as more “authentic” representatives of than Karzai and his (semi) “Westernized” government.

In short, Karzai is anticipating being thrown under the bus, and is trying to get off before he feels The One’s hands on his shoulders, and Lurch’s boot up his a$$.

And BTW, if I was trying to reassure a foreign ally that I was in their corner, Lt. Frankenlurch is the last person I’d send with the message. Even Shrillary is more convincing than he is.

clear ether

eon

eon on June 20, 2013 at 10:29 AM

We should offer to not turn their miserable existence into ashes if they turn over all prisoners.

skspls on June 20, 2013 at 10:36 AM

A Taliban spokesman, Shaheen Suhail, says U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “is as far as I know in good condition.”

This statement which sounds so offhand gives me the shivers. The offer itself angers me but…Does that comment bother anybody else? …

jazzuscounty on June 20, 2013 at 10:45 AM

jazzuscounty on June 20, 2013 at 10:45 AM

I would venture a guess that it bothers most everyone here. My patience in much of this has waned. Turn that freaking sandpit cesspool into glass for all I care.

Bmore on June 20, 2013 at 11:01 AM

The Taliban know Obama better than he knows himself.

This is gonna get ugly.

PattyJ on June 20, 2013 at 11:41 AM

The Associated Press reported as an “exclusive” earlier this morning that the Taliban have offered to release an American held for almost four years in a swap for Taliban members at Guantanamo Bay.

Gee…Just like Hamas and Gilad Shalit.

bgoldman on June 20, 2013 at 12:44 PM

So their deal is that we send them 5 high level people and at some point after that they’ll send us our soldier that they are pretty sure was in good condition the last time they saw him?

Perhaps that’s their opening position in the negotiation, but, if that’s the deal they honestly think we should accept, they are crazy.

JadeNYU on June 20, 2013 at 12:58 PM

How about we offer NOT to nuke Afghanistan if they release the soldier?

wdkeller on June 20, 2013 at 1:19 PM

We’re not negotiating an end to the civil war so much as an end to our part of it, by getting assurances that the Taliban won’t cooperate with terrorism outside of their borders again. The rest will be up to the Afghans.

Ed, you know full well that the taliban will continue on with their evil, barbaric ways when we are gone….they will never renounce jihad..this is who they are..to negotiate with them is absolutely stupid and will get nowhere..and is also an insult to all the brave men and women who died fighting them..

sadsushi on June 20, 2013 at 1:59 PM