The deal announced on February 29th by the Trump administration with the Taliban had as a major feature that in return for the US withdrawing all its troops from that country in 14 months, the Afghan government would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban would issue ‘security guarantees’ (whatever that means) and pledge to begin talks with the Afghan government (whatever that means). But the US did not include the Afghan government in the negotiations and now it looks like there is a problem that has prevented the talks from beginning on March 10th.
The Afghan government has postponed its plan to release Taliban prisoners, a senior official said, a decision that could sabotage a peace deal signed last month between the armed group and the United States.
Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said on Saturday the releases were being delayed because more time was needed to review the list of Taliban prisoners.
Earlier this week, President Ashraf Ghani announced that 1,500 Taliban prisoners would be freed as a “gesture of goodwill” in an attempt to resolve one of the long-running disputes that had roiled talks with the armed group.
Ghani’s decree said the government would release 1,500 captives starting Saturday if the insurgents cut violence, with plans to free another 3,500 prisoners after negotiations begin.
The Taliban rejected the offer and demanded the release of nearly 5,000 captives, citing it as one of the conditions behind the US-Taliban deal signed last month that excluded Kabul.
The fact that there are two people claiming to be the legitimate Afghan president is not helping. It is not clear if the Trump administration is concerned enough about the deal unraveling that it will intervene or whether it is so consumed with dealing with the pandemic that they ignore this issue.