Speaking to reporters today during his visit to Japan, President Obama downplayed the chances of any change in situation in Afghanistan, saying he believes the Taliban insurgency will continue its “agenda of violence and blowing up innocent people.”
This stands in stark contrast to the claims by the State Department just two days ago, when they insisted the US assassination of Taliban leader Mullah Mansour would oblige the group to accept a “peaceful resolution” of the 15-year long war.
The State Department’s claims were widely dismissed by analysts, but that the administration shifted their talking points already reflects that they didn’t buy their own narrative either. The Afghan government similarly presented the new Taliban leader as “uninterested in peace.”
The last time the peace process has any real momentum was in July of 2015, when the Afghan government and Taliban were meeting in Pakistan. The Afghan government essentially ended this process by announcing that the Taliban was negotiating without their founder, Mullah Omar, who had secretly died.
The announcement of Mullah Omar’s death fueled a leadership battle within the Taliban, one which Afghanistan officials brag they are openly subsidizing to sew discord. At the same time, the lack of a unified leadership is keeping the Taliban unable to negotiate, and with the US assassination exacerbating that, one cannot but come to the conclusion that Afghan and US officials aren’t seriously interested in peace talks.