US 'not ready to throw in the towel' on Afghan talks even as Taliban violence grows

The Biden administration has continued to back negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban, insisting the latter is still invested in the political process and political success is still possible, even as the international community has accused the Taliban of atrocities that may amount to war crimes. However, experts and former diplomats say that the Taliban want full control of Afghanistan and will continue to seek leverage for that goal on the battlefield. The top US envoy himself has acknowledged that the Taliban feel "emboldened" by their recent military gains in the country.

Taliban political leadership remains engaged in discussions with US officials from their perch in Doha, and regularly fly to capitals all over the world to discuss the future of Afghanistan, but the intra-Afghan negotiations in the Qatari capital have continued on and off for nearly a year with no tangible result. Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan P. Michael McKinley said that "the idea that the Taliban are negotiating in Doha in good faith, or were, is just not true."

"Anyone who's suggesting that these were meaningful negotiations leading to a peace process was engaging in aspirational thinking and we're seeing now that the Taliban have seized the opportunity on the military front but there's no signs of any concessions anywhere," he said at the Aspen Security Forum event this week.


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