Op-eds

Not the Time to Talk with the Taliban: Op-Ed by Arian Sharifi (PhD Cand.)

The Hill

Efforts at talking to the Taliban have been a failure to date, and they are unlikely to meet with success anytime soon.

The Obama and Karzai administrations are both trying to open negotiation channels with the movement, each for their own reasons. President Obama hopes to bring some level of stability to Afghanistan through a political settlement with the Taliban as he withdraws the majority of American troops from the country by the end of 2014 – a face-saving approach of some sort. Likewise, President Karzai wishes to strike a deal with the Taliban before the end of his presidential mandate in the spring of 2014, hoping to leave a legacy of peace-building behind.

But perhaps the very reasons why presidents Obama and Karzai are pushing for talks with the Taliban are preventing the insurgent movement from responding in kind. Given the short time remaining of NATO’s combat mission, as well as Karzai’s term as president, what incentives do the Taliban have in agreeing to any negotiations? Why would they negotiate with Americans who are running toward the exit, or with Karzai who will not be in power in a few months?

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