Secret Contacts between Taliban and Karzai Helped Erode U.S.-Afghan Relations

Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Taliban fighters ready to engage in talks (Photo: Hoshang Hashimi, AP)

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has again demonstrated that a military partnership with the United States beyond this year may not continue. After stalling for months on a new security agreement, and falsely blaming American forces for recent civilian deaths, Karzai has now been exposed for conducting secret talks with the Taliban without any involvement from Washington.


The latest move by Karzai has only further eroded a strained relationship with the U.S., which must decide what future—if any—there can be with the Afghan government.


Negotiations between Karzai’s government and Taliban commanders began in November after the insurgents approached local officials. However, speculation has arisen—in both Western and Afghan camps—as to whether the Taliban representatives had the authority to negotiate, or even if their true motives were to make peace or to sabotage the U.S. security agreement. Either way, the talks have not yielded any results, according to The New York Times.


They have, however, deepened mistrust in the Obama administration for Karzai.


Washington has waited since October for an answer about the new 10-year agreement that would keep American forces in the country beyond this year, when Secretary of State John Kerry visited Afghanistan. Karzai said he would put the plan before a loya jirga, or assembly of prominent Afghans, which approved it.


But Karzai has dragged his feet on giving his okay.


In the meantime, his government last month teamed up with the Taliban to accuse the U.S. of causing multiple civilian casualties during a military operation run by the Afghan army. That episode left American and European officials shaking their heads over what Karzai is trying to do as the U.S. involvement in the war winds down and troops prepare to come home.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts With the Taliban (by Azam Ahmed and Matthew Rosenberg, New York Times)

Afghan Government and Taliban Unite…to Spread Fake Information about U.S. Air Strike (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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