June 30 of 2009, then-Pfc Bowe Bergdahl went missing in the Paktika Province of occupied Afghanistan, and was later confirmed captured by Taliban fighters. Four years later, he is still a hostage.
Now an Army sergeant, Bergdahl’s custody was all but forgotten in the US media for years, but the fact that he remains in Taliban hands was brought up by the Taliban earlier this month, when they proposed a prisoner exchange.
The Taliban offered to exchange Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees, an offer that was seen as a chance for both sides to build confidence ahead of peace talks in Qatar. The talks are stalled, and the US has been entirely mum on whether they would even consider the exchange.
Interestingly, the US had already agreed to do materially the same thing in 2012, only at the time they weren’t even getting Bergdahl back. The stumbling block at the time was the Karzai government delayed in signing off on the transfer. Then Sgt. Robert Bales massacred a bunch of Afghan villagers and the Taliban cancelled those talks, and the whole matter was dropped.
Strangely enough, getting Bergdahl back may make the deal harder for the US to accept, since they don’t want to appear to be “trading” detainees, though they were perfectly willing to let detainees go to build confidence.