The United Arab Emirates said talks it is hosting between the United States and the Taliban have yielded "positive" results. The US-Taliban "reconciliation talks" produced "tangible results that are positive for all parties concerned", the UAE's official WAM news agency said on Wednesday. A new round of talks would be held in Abu Dhabi "to complete the Afghanistan reconciliation process", it said without providing further details. The two days of meetings in the Emirati capital are Washington's latest attempt at ending Afghanistan's 17-year conflict, which has cost it nearly $1 trillion since 2011 when it led an invasion to overthrow the Taliban government of Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks. President George W Bush's administration at the time accused the Afghan group of harbouring Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, which carried out the attacks.
Former congressman and retired Lt. Col. Allen West expressed his'disgust' Wednesday with reports that five members of the Taliban negotiation team meeting with a United States envoy to end America's war in Afghanistan are former Guantanamo Bay detainees released in 2014. "I just read a report this morning that part of the Taliban negotiating delegation are those five individuals that were released from Guantanamo Bay by President Obama. And to me that just makes me sick in the stomach and it should make every single person that served and sacrificed in Afghanistan sick in the stomach," West said on Fox News Radio's "Brian Kilmeade Show." Bowe Bergdahl wandered off his base in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by the Taliban. In 2014 the Obama administration negotiated an exchange for his release.
A shadowy, Pakistan-based militant faction is on the rise within the Taliban after its leader was appointed deputy and played a key role in unifying the fractured insurgency. The ascendency of the Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, could significantly strengthen the Taliban and herald another summer of fierce fighting in Afghanistan. The firepower it brings to the Taliban was shown by a Kabul bombing last month that killed 64 people, the deadliest in the Afghan capital in years, which experts say was too sophisticated for the insurgents to have carried out without the Haqqanis. The network's role could also further poison already tainted relations between Islamabad and Kabul. Afghanistan is pressing Pakistan to crack down on the Haqqanis, accusing it of tolerating the group, a charge the Pakistanis deny.
Haqqani quickly set about uniting the fractured Taliban, first by bringing Mullah Omar's son, Mullah Yaqoob, and his brother, Mullah Abdul Manan Omari, into the fold, according to a Taliban official who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to talk to the press. Fahd Humayun, program and research manager at the Jinnah Institute, a think-tank in the Pakistani capital, who closely follows Taliban developments, also said Haqqani was key to healing the divisions. A four-nation group that included Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States launched efforts earlier this year to try to bring Afghanistan's protracted war to a negotiated end but the push fell apart amid recent Taliban battlefield gains. "We have consistently expressed our concerns at the highest level of the government of Pakistan about their continued tolerance for Afghan Taliban groups, such as the Haqqani network, operating from Pakistani soil," U.S. State Department spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau said at a press briefing following the Kabul attack.
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN – Afghan guerrilla commander Sirajuddin Haqqani, a possible successor to Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, would likely prove an even more implacable foe of beleaguered Afghan government forces and their U.S. allies. The United States killed Mansour in an airstrike in a remote border area just inside Pakistan, the Afghanistan government said Sunday, in an attack likely to dash any immediate prospect for peace talks. The U.S. has not confirmed Mansour's death. Haqqani, who has a 5 million U.S. bounty on his head, is widely seen by U.S. and Afghan officials as the most dangerous warlord in the Taliban insurgency, responsible for the most bloody attacks, including one last month in Kabul in which 64 people were killed. If Haqqani is confirmed as the next Taliban leader it may be seen as fitting for the scion of a family that has been famously involved in Afghanistan's decades of bloodshed.