What is the Taliban doing in Moscow?

Here’s a curious bit of news for you. Recently, the President took to twitter after the cancellation of the Taliban’s expected visit to Camp David (!) and declared that the negotiations with them were effectively dead. Wither he was serious or that was just a bargaining tactic remains a mystery, but the Taliban leaders apparently found a way to use some of the time that was suddenly freed up on their calendars. They showed up in Mosco this weekend and are talking to the Russians. (Boston Globe)

A negotiating team from the Taliban arrived Friday in Russia, a representative told the Associated Press, just days after President Trump declared dead a deal with the insurgent group in Afghanistan.

Russian state news agency Tass cited the Taliban’s Qatar-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as saying the delegation had held consultations with Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for Afghanistan. The visit was confirmed to the AP by a Taliban official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

The Interfax news agency cited an unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying the meeting in Russia underlined the necessity of renewing talks between the US and the Taliban, and that the Taliban confirmed their readiness to continuing dialogue with Washington.

So the leaders of the Taliban are releasing statements saying they’re totally ready to give negotiations with us another go. If that’s the case, why talk to Putin’s people? If they’re really looking for an intermediary in the talks, why not go to one of our allies who hasn’t been so involved with the war there? I’m sure the Swiss would be willing to handle the chore. That’s kind of their thing.

Or have the Taliban bought into the idea that Putin is President Trump’s best buddy and Trump might “listen to reason” if the message is coming from the Kremlin? On top of that, Russia seems like an odd choice for them even if you leave all of the international politics out of it. It’s only been thirty years (almost to the day) since they kicked the last of the Soviet troops out of their country. I’m certain some of the older Taliban leaders still remember those days. They can’t be wild about the Russians.

As I wrote last week when all of this began falling apart, there’s little reason to have confidence in these talks being anything more than a dog and pony show anyway. The Taliban is a terrorist organization far more than a legitimate government. They can’t be trusted as far as you could throw them. They’ll say whatever they have to say to get our troops out of their country and then they’ll overthrow the new government. Everyone who worked with us will be in danger and they’ll go back to doing what they’ve always done.

I’ll toss out one prediction in closing. If Moscow does try to set up some sort of meeting and mediate a new agreement between America and the Taliban, you can expect to see the Democrats – particularly the 2020 POTUS hopefuls – using this as fodder to once again claim that Trump is beholden to Vladimir Putin. And they’ll probably be fundraising off of it. We should keep Moscow out of this deal entirely.