Over the past weekend, we kept poking into the details of the first “official talks” held between American diplomatic officials and the Taliban in Qatar. The meeting was announced on relatively short notice and our delegation was mostly tight-lipped about what was going on. We did learn that the head of the delegation was CIA Deputy Director David Cohen. The CIA was tasked with taking the lead because the primary focus of the meeting was supposed to be finding ways to prevent radical Islamic terrorism from rebuilding a base of operations in Afghanistan. Those goals were quickly scrubbed when the Taliban preemptively announced that they would not be cooperating with the United States in combatting ISIS-K. (They claim they can handle it themselves.)
Other than that, we didn’t hear much about the details of the meetings until they concluded yesterday. And even then the details seemed to be less than clear, and as of this morning, the Biden administration still hasn’t released much more information. But the Taliban was a bit more forthcoming since one agreement had allegedly been made that they were quick to celebrate. It turns out that, at least according to the Taliban, the United States has agreed to send more “robust” humanitarian aid to the country. (Associated Press)
The U.S. has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to a desperately poor Afghanistan on the brink of an economic disaster, while refusing to give political recognition to the country’s new Taliban rulers, the Taliban said Sunday.
The statement came at the end of the first direct talks between the former foes since the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of August…
The Taliban said the talks held in Doha, Qatar, “went well,” with Washington freeing up humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after agreeing not to link such assistance to formal recognition of the Taliban.
Of course, we still don’t know for sure if that statement is even true, though it seems likely given our recent track record in dealing with the Taliban. Thus far, the State Departments has only released a brief statement saying that our delegation and the Taliban’s representatives “discussed the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people.” Using the word “discussed” rather than “agreed to” might mean something, but since the Biden administration clearly decided early on that the American people have no right to know what’s been going on in all of this wheeling and dealing, we have no way to know.
There was supposed to be another major agenda item on the docket during these meetings and that was the need to secure safe passage out of the country for all of our people and their Afghan helpers. State Department spokesman Ned Price actually raised that issue in his brief statement. He said our delegation had “focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners…”
The Taliban’s take on that was that they would “facilitate principled movement of foreign nationals.” That’s a far cry from what Price said since there was no mention of our Afghan partners. Also, as with so many of the statements we get from the Taliban’s political office, “principled movement” could mean almost anything.
Thus far, it sounds like the Taliban got what they wanted, which was more cash and food relief. What did we get in return? Well, it wasn’t entirely nothing. The Taliban did at least admit that the relief they will be receiving is not tied to any formal recognition of them as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. While I’m sure they would love formal recognition, they’re still getting the food and the cash, so they’re probably not losing too much sleep over it.
From the moment we started negotiating with the Taliban back in August, this entire process has been cloaked in far, far too much secrecy. We get more details about what’s going on from the liars in the Taliban political office than we do from the White House. Those negotiations are being held on the behalf of the American people. This is not Joe Biden’s private rummage sale for terrorists. Congress needs to continue holding public hearings and holding the Biden administration’s feet to the fire. The job of getting our people home has not been accomplished yet and the Taliban are throwing a party. And for weeks now, all we seem to hear from the White House is that we are “turning the page” and “moving on.” Not a chance, Uncle Joe. The Pottery Barn rule is still in effect.
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