WorldMiddle East


Why The US Is Trying To Talk To The Taliban — Again

Talks for ending America's longest war have been complicated, but the Trump administration is giving direct negotiations with the Taliban another go.
Posted at 6:40 PM, Jul 26, 2018

Once again, the U.S. is pushing to end its longest war — and once again, it's giving it a shot by talking directly with the Taliban.

The new round of talks is meant to kick-start negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government. But it's a significant shift from President Donald Trump's past position on the issue.

"There's no talking to the Taliban. We don't want to talk to the Taliban. We're going to finish what we have to finish, what nobody else has been able to finish. We're going to be able to do it," Trump said.

Past policies demanded the Taliban negotiate with the Afghan government, not the United States. But the problem is, the Taliban was only really interested in negotiating with the U.S., who they see as occupiers.

President Barack Obama's administration eventually tried talking directly with the Taliban multiple times in the past, but those negotiations never got far. 

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai ended up shutting down one round of talks over a disagreement about whether the Taliban could set up a political office in Qatar.

And in earlier peace attempts, the U.S. was completely left out — there was a fear the U.S. would try to kill or arrest the Taliban representatives. 

The Taliban currently controls almost 15 percent of Afghanistan's districts. Another 29 percent are contested, leaving the Afghan government in control of just over 56 percent of the country's territory.

Which doesn't bode well for these current talks. An offer for unconditional talks made by Afghanistan's current president, Ashraf Ghani, was rejected by the Taliban earlier this year.