Afghanistan Suspends U.S. Talks

http://www.cfr.org/about/newsletters/archive/newsletter/n1318

Afghanistan suspended security talks (BBC) with Washington that had been aimed at shaping the U.S. military presence in the country after the 2014 drawdown, blaming U.S. inconsistency over the Taliban peace process (al-Jazeera). Washington announced Tuesday that it would engage in direct negotiations with the group, which officially opened a political office in Doha, Qatar, a day earlier. Meanwhile, The Taliban claimed responsibility for the death of four U.S. forces in an overnight attack (al-Arabiya) on Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on Wednesday. Negotiations on the Bilateral Security Agreement with Kabul began this year and, if completed, will determine how many U.S. bases and soldiers will remain in Afghanistan once NATO ends combat operations.

Analysis

“President Karzai clearly feels a sense of anger and betrayal over the way the U.S. made that announcement. He thought there would be a commitment from the Taliban to engage with the Afghan government, to recognize the constitution and to renounce violence,” writes Jonathan Beale for the BBC.

“The fact that the Taliban will once again be meeting face to face with American negotiators is a positive sign, say experts. But few think this represents a major shift in policy on either the Taliban or the U.S. side,” writes Jean Mackenzie for Global Post.

“The retrograde itself will cost as much as $6 billion and involve about 29,000 personnel, for the American part alone (each of the 50 coalition countries is responsible for its own logistics). The job is unprecedented in complexity; compared with Iraq, the region’s terrain and politics make it a mover’s nightmare,” writes The Economist.

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