Bowe Bergdahl’s release has been suggested by the Taliban — in exchange for five Gitmo detainees. US Army Sergent Bergdahl, age 27, has been detained by the Taliban since 2009. His is reportedly alive and in “good condition.”
Shaheen Suhail, a Taliban spokesman, discussed the conditions of the exchange. Taliban officials are not willing to move forward with peace talks involving the US and the Afghan government until the exchange occurs.
As reported by NBC News, the exchange, and peace talks, are expected to happen in a specific order. Taliban officials would like to see the five Gitmo detainees released first. Bowe Bergdahl’s release would follow. Suhail explains the offer in more detail:
“It would be an exchange. Then, step by step, we want to build bridges of confidence to go forward.”
A successful exchange would be the first step toward peace talks being proposed between the US and Taliban. The talks were expected to include Afghan officials. However, the Afghan president has refused to participate until US officials remove a Taliban flag and plaque from a newly built Doha office.
As reported by NPR, the display was offensive and violated prior agreements. US officials have ordered removal of the flag and plaque.
If and when the peace talks begin, they are expected to include conditions that the Taliban sever ties with al-Qaeda, and adopt the constitution of Afghanistan. The constitution includes specific provisions for women’s and minorities’ rights.
Following initial reports of peace talks, four US troops were killed just outside Bagram Air Base. The attack, which was admitted by the Taliban, threatened to stall any further negotiations or talk of a peaceful resolution.
Earlier this week US officials announce that a majority of US combat troops would be removed from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. As security detail has been turned over to local specialists, the 12 year US presence is no longer a necessity. US troops have spent years training the Afghan Armed Forces to handle their own security duties.
It is expected that some troops will remain, and international aid will be provided, to facilitate the transition.
As US troops prepare to leave, and peace talks are set to begin, Bowe Bergdahl’s release would would be an important move in the right direction. Bergdahl is reportedly the only US citizen currently held captive by the Taliban.
[Image via Wikimedia]