Taliban Talks in Doubt: Prisoner Swap Could Save Them

Offer to Swap Detainees Would Be Confidence-Builder

On Tuesday, the Taliban announced planned peace talks that could set the stage for finally ending the Afghan War. A few days and a lot of arguments later, the talks are stalled and may never happen at all.

The whole row seems to have centered on the Afghan flag. The Taliban really likes their old flag, from before the 2001 US occupation, while the Karzai government insists that flag is in and of itself a grave insult. The US reportedly said it was fine at first and after Karzai freaked out, they backtracked.

Between that and the name of the nondescript Taliban office in Qatar, the talks are hanging on by a thread, and stalled indefinitely. The Taliban’s offer of a prisoner swap could be the confidence-builder needed to save them, but the US seems unlikely to follow through on this, and so far has dodged the question entirely.

That’s sort of the story of the last 12+ years of war and failed talks all over, with most of the efforts by any given side immediately undermined by some minor “outrage” from another, and concessions being left to die on the vine.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.