A senior Taliban commander who the Afghan government believes could be key to brokering a political settlement in Afghanistan will be released later this month, Pakistan’s most senior foreign affairs official has announced.
Islamabad has long-resisted demands by the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, to free Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s former second-in-command, who it is hoped could initiate a peace process between Kabul and hardline rebels who once ruled the country.
Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser, said Pakistan had finally agreed to hand him over after an apparent improvement in the tempestuous relationship between the two countries.
An exact timeline for Baradar’s release hasn’t been decided; however, Sartaj Aziz has been quoted as saying that the Taliban leader is expected to be freed before the end of September. While many are hesitant to see an accused Taliban leader set free, many who are more familiar with the region are hailing the move as a step forward in Pakistan-Afghan relations.
14:43 // 7 months ago
Taliban gunmen launched a suicide attack near the presidential palace and CIA offices in Kabul after using fake security passes to get into the fortified diplomatic zone and killing three checkpoint guards.
Attackers jumped out of a vehicle at a roundabout near the Salam Khana (Welcome Home) gate of the presidential palace and opened fire on guards and the former Ariana hotel nearby, which has been used as a CIA base for more than a decade.
A spokesman for the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said the fighting never approached the palace’s inner area of homes and offices, which lies behind walls that are dozens of metres thick in places.
Some believe the Taliban are trying to send the message that they are well-prepared for a return to hostility, should the proposed U.S.-Afghan-Taliban negotiations fail to get back on track. While the Taliban has confirmed that it was behind the breach, the group doesn’t appear to have offered an official reason for the attack at this time.
19:47 // 9 months ago
A fresh effort to end Afghanistan’s 12-year-old war looked in disarray on Thursday after a diplomatic row about the Taliban’s new Qatar office delayed preliminary discussions between the US and the Islamist insurgents.
Talks between US officials and Taliban representatives had been set for Thursday in the Gulf state but Afghan government anger at the opening of a Taliban office there threw preparations into confusion.
The dispute may set the tone for what could be long and arduous negotiations to end a war that has raged since the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Probably not a good sign of things to come. Anybody think these peace talks will actually lead to anything productive?
15:58 // 10 months ago
Hastings’ hallmark as reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. While other embedded reporters were charmed by McChrystal’s bad-boy bravado and might have excused his insubordination as a joke, Hastings was determined to expose the recklessness of a man leading what Hastings believed to be a reckless war. “Runaway General” was was a finalist for a National Magazine Award, won the 2010 Polk award for magazine reporting, and was the basis for Hastings’ book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan.
For Hastings, there was no romance to America’s misbegotten wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He had felt the horror of war first-hand: While covering the Iraq war for Newsweek in early 2007, his then-fianceé, an aide worker, was killed in a Baghdad car bombing. Hastings memorialized that relationship in his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story.
An aide to Hillary Clinton, at the time in the midst of the Benghazi scandal, also told Hastings to fuck off one time. Which, of course, was published.
19:49 // 10 months ago
The United States will meet the Taliban in Doha for talks aimed at achieving peace in Afghanistan, where the United States has battled the insurgents for 12 years, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, warned that the process would likely be lengthy.
They said the Taliban would issue a statement on Tuesday opposing the use of Afghan soil for attacks on other countries and that they support an Afghan peace process.
The United States will insist the Taliban break ties with al Qaeda, end violence, and accept the Afghan constitution, including protection for women and minorities, the officials told reporters in a conference call.
We expect to see quite a bit of debate over these peace talks in the coming days, as many on both sides of the aisle have long-opposed direct negotiations with the Taliban. Particularly since it’s believed that an exchange of detainees is likely to be included in any deal that’s reached by the two sides.
15:37 // 10 months ago