Peace talks only benefit Taliban
In an apparent show of muscle, and its continued defiance of recognizing President Hamid Karzai's government, the Taliban opened the new office waving their own white flag and with signs displaying the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" -- the moniker used when they ruled the country in the 1990s. Displeased with the portrayal, Karzai announced that his government no longer plans to send envoys from the Afghan High Peace Council to partake in talks in Doha, but remains willing to pursue the negotiations inside Afghanistan. While the signs were taken down, Karzai felt his government had been sidelined in the process that led to the office opening, and suspended bilateral negotiations on a long-stalled U.S.-Afghan security deal that will govern the American military presence in Afghanistan after 2014.
But despite their willingness to come to the negotiating table, the Afghan Taliban has not yet accepted or respected any of Washington's and Kabul's primary conditions -- namely to renounce violence and recognize the Afghan Constitution. In fact, just one day after the office's opening, the Taliban continued their daily violence and claimed responsibility for an attack that killed four American troops. The Taliban's intransigence to enter serious talks shows the measure of their strength, and is a sharp reminder that the Taliban's insurgency remains potent, insincere in its dealings, closed to the terms of negotiations, and ultimately, unwilling to reconcile.
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Javid Ahmad is a Program Coordinator with the Asia Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington, DC.