Two U.S. Service Members Killed As Peace Talks Continue To Stall
(New York, N.Y.) – Last Saturday, two U.S. service members were killed by a roadside bomb in southern Kandahar, illustrating that Taliban activity continues to be prevelant in the Middle East as peace talks in Afghanistan remain on hold with U.S. diplomats. It follows a previous attack claimed by the Taliban on Bagram Airfield on December 11, 2019. In the aftermath, U.S. officials declared a “brief pause” on peace negotiations, a repeat of September of 2019, when the Taliban launched an attack on a foreign compound in Kabul that killed 12, including a U.S. soldier. Subsequently, U.S. President Donald Trump canceled a secret meeting at Camp David with Taliban leaders and the president of Afghanistan, effectively ending the U.S.-Taliban months-long peace negotiations.
After the President’s declaration in September 2019, the Taliban later issued a threatening statement claiming that “the Americans will suffer more than anyone else for cancelling the talks.” However, on October 5, 2019, in an effort to revive peace negotiations, Taliban officials met with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Pakistan to discuss confidence-building measures that could include a possible prisoner swap or a reduction in violence. The discussions between the two sides were informal, the Taliban members said, and did not indicate the beginning of a new round of peace discussions, only that one may take place in the future.
These attacks are expected to continue stalling the peace process, belying the Taliban’s recent offer for a temporary cease-fire that would last between seven and 10 days. Still, despite the frequency of Taliban-sponsored attacks—there are at least five small scale attacks per week throughout the country—peace negotiations between the United States, Afghan officials, and the Taliban managed to reach their most promising level earlier in 2019. Qatar and Germany hosted a series of Doha-based talks between U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and top Taliban official Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar that centered on withdrawing thousands of U.S. troops in exchange for the Taliban’s agreement to a ceasefire and their participation in negotiating a larger peace deal directly with the Afghan government.
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To read CEP’s Afghanistan resource, please click here.