Problematic ‘Peace Talks’ with the Taliban
5:11 PM, Mar 27, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The Obama administration’s attempt at peace talks with the Taliban has been fraught with problems. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on another: Qatar.
Qatar has always been a problematic ally. As I previously pointed out, Qatar is a hotbed for terrorist financing. Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and allied groups find it fairly easy to raise funds there. For instance, a leaked December 30, 2009 State Department cable contains a summary of the problem (emphasis added):
Given this state of affairs, the Taliban five would not necessarily even have to leave Qatar to have an impact on the fight. For example, they could become valuable fundraisers while in country. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin openly worried about something along these lines during a hearing earlier this year.
Returning to the WSJ piece we learn that the U.S. has “demanded as a precondition that the Taliban denounce their links with al Qaeda.” However, the Taliban sees this demand “at this stage of the talks, as illegitimate.”
Some claim the Taliban and al Qaeda are not really all that close and it should be easy to separate the two. Vice President Joseph Biden has taken this claim still further, insisting that “the Taliban per se is not our enemy.” Yet the Taliban, when asked to foreswear al Qaeda, claims that this demand is “illegitimate.”
The tension between the reality of the fight in Afghanistan – where al Qaeda, the Taliban and related groups form a deadly coalition – and the premise of the Obama administration’s nascent “peace talks” is plain to see.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.