Dec 7, 2019

U.S. and Taliban restart peace talks in Qatar

Taliban leaders during peace talks with the U.S. in July in Qatar. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. and the Taliban reopened peace talks in Qatar on Saturday, nearly three months after President Trump abruptly called diplomatic negotiations off, Al Jazeera reports.

Why it matters: These renewed efforts are key to paving the way for direct talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul to end a more than 18-year war, AP notes. The first goal for the U.S. is to encourage the Taliban to reduce violence, and ultimately agree to a permanent cease fire. The group has carried out numerous deadly attacks since talks fell apart earlier this year.

The state of play:

  • Taliban leaders have refused to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani so far, calling him a "puppet of the U.S.," AP writes.
  • Afghanistan is facing an election standoff between Ghani and Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah over allegations of corruption and misconduct in the Sept. 28 elections. The government is currently at a standstill as the two leaders try to share power, but continue to bicker, per Al Jazeera.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

A U.S. armored vehicle in Afghanistan in 2011. Photo: Bay Ismoyo/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. service member was "killed in action" in Afghanistan on Monday, a Defense Department statement said, per Stars and Stripes. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the "blast in the northern province of Kunduz," Reuters reports.

The big picture: 20 American troops who have been killed in combat operations in Afghanistan — the most in one year to die fighting militant groups there since 2014, "when the Pentagon euphemistically announced the 'end of combat operations," the New York Times notes.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 23, 2019

WaPo: American people misled for two decades over Afghanistan failures

The report covers failures across the Bush (L) and Obama administrations. Photo: Brendan SmialowskiI/AFP via Getty Images

Three U.S. administrations have, over 18 years, told the public the U.S. was making steady progress in Afghanistan despite knowing the war effort was failing.

Driving the news: The facts are laid bare in new reporting from Washington Post, based on 2,000 pages of interviews conducted by a government oversight agency to determine what went wrong in Afghanistan. The Post gained access to the documents after a three-year legal battle.

House committee to hold hearing on Afghanistan war findings

Eliot Engel. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot Engel announced Tuesday plans for a hearing with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in response to an incriminating report that three U.S. administrations misled the public in regard to the Afghanistan war.

“I fully expect the State Department and other agencies to cooperate in the committee’s endeavor to provide transparency and accountability to the American people on the impact of 18 years of war and more than $2 trillion spent.”
— Rep. Eliot Engel, in a statement on Tuesday
Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019