In November, Chris Kolenda and Robin Raphel boarded a plane to Doha, Qatar, for a conversation with Taliban representatives. It was the beginning of a quiet channel, never authorized by U.S. officials—who neither paid them nor asked them to carry any messages—that proved to be instrumental in convincing the Trump administration, and particularly senior Pentagon and U.S. military officials, that there was a real chance to broker an end to the war.
Kolenda, an Afghanistan veteran himself, had been here before. He had been part of an ultimately fruitless attempt during the Obama administration to talk with the Taliban. But this time, talking with the Taliban in Doha, “I was struck by what I detected was a much higher level of seriousness about bringing the conflict to a close than I saw in 2011,” Kolenda told The Daily Beast.
Friday, August 03, 2018
Maybe Heading Towards a Truce?
I find these peace talks to be intensely-interesting. At least since 2011 it's been clear that that there was a path for the Americans and the Taliban to settle their differences, with the Taliban pledging to not host foreign terrorists and the Americans dramatically reducing their presence, but both sides kept fighting. Suddenly, though, both sides want to settle. Even though the article doesn't mention it, part of impulse may be the arrival in Afghanistan in 2014 of ISIS. The Taliban is likely as powerful now as it's ever going to get and they need to lock in their gains now: