Small Wars Journal

Stalled Prisoner Swap Slows Steps Toward Resuming Talks in Afghan War

Stalled Prisoner Swap Slows Steps Toward Resuming Talks in Afghan War by Craig Nelson and Ehsanullah Amiri – Wall Street Journal

KABUL—The Afghan government said Saturday it was reassessing its decision to free three imprisoned senior Taliban fighters, following a failed prisoner swap this week aimed at helping resuscitate negotiations on a political settlement of the 18-year Afghan war.

The plan called for the Taliban to turn over two English instructors, an American and an Australian, in exchange for the release of the three militants, who are being held at a U.S. air base in Afghanistan, according to U.S., Afghan government and Taliban officials. The militants were to be flown to the Gulf state of Qatar, where the Taliban has a political office, the officials said.

The proposed exchange went awry, however, hours after President Ashraf Ghani, flanked by his senior security advisers, went on national television Tuesday to announce he had agreed to release the three militants, all hailing from the Taliban’s fiercest, most hard-line faction, the Haqqani network.

The reasons behind the stalled exchange, a complex logistical challenge steeped in mistrust and politics and undertaken in the middle of a raging war, haven’t been publicly disclosed…

Read on.