These detainees are not bit players; some are reportedly considered “high risk.” Left unsaid in this report is what the U.S. gets out of it. It sounds as much as ever as if Washington is willing to trade risky American actions to see the Taliban to say the right things.
“Taliban Guantanamo detainees agree to Qatar transfer: official,” by Hamid Shalizi for Reuters, March 10:
KABUL (Reuters) – Five Taliban detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison have agreed to be transferred to Qatar, a move Afghanistan believes will boost a nascent peace process, President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman said on Saturday.
The transfer idea is part of U.S. efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table to avoid prolonged instability in Afghanistan after foreign combat troops leave the country at the end of 2014.
“We are hopeful this will be a positive step towards peace efforts,” Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi told Reuters, adding the Taliban detainees would be re-united with their families in Qatar if the transfer takes place.
It would be one of a series of good-faith measures that could set in motion the first substantial political negotiations on the conflict in Afghanistan since the Taliban government was toppled in 2001 in a U.S.-led invasion.
A year after it was unveiled, the Obama administration’s peace initiative may soon offer the United States a historic opportunity to broker an end to a war that began as the response to the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on the United States.
But the peace drive also presents risks for President Barack Obama.
He faces the potential for political fallout months before a presidential election, as his government considers backing an arrangement that would give some degree of power to the Taliban, known for their brutality and extreme interpretation of Islam.
Despite months of covert diplomacy, it remains unclear whether the prisoner transfer will go ahead.
Doubts are growing about whether the Taliban leadership is willing to weather possible opposition from junior and more hard-core members who appear to oppose negotiations….