Taliban Offers U.s. Soldier in Exchange of Guantanamo Captives

File picture shows a Guantanamo detainee running inside an exercise area at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base

Afghan Taliban is finally hinting at emancipation of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdhal who has been held captive since 2009. The Talibans are now willing to free the soldier in exchange for their ‘Guantanamo pals’ who are in prison. According to them, they are willing to build a bridge of confidence and ultimately free the imprisoned soldier. Asked about his physical condition, they say, “he is fit.”

One of their higher authorities, Shaheen Suhail, defined the terms of the Taliban, “First has to be the release of detainees” and then, he added, “We are eager to build a bridge of confidence”. He hints about U.S. army special Bowe Bergdhal who was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2009. Since then he has been held captive by the strong forces of extremists. During his days of bondage he was given opportunity to talk to his father and often sent letters. And he seemed very confident that he will be released. His family members are hoping that it should not turn out ‘a mirage’; they want their son back. But as long as extremists are involved, nothing can be assured. Maybe it is their new strategy to free their men held captive by the U.S.

Shaheen Suhail as he spoke from a newly opened office in Qatar, said, “As far I know, he is in good condition”. But he was tight-lipped when asked about the place where he is kept. Actually he was unwilling to give any further details about the location of his army. He behaved as if he, “Doesn’t know about it”. But his words hint at a Taliban offer in exchange for their people in captivity. They want their comrades returned first.

Suhail said the Taliban are insistent that they want their first interlocutors to be the United States. “First we talk to the Americans about those issues concerning the Americans and us (because) for those issues implementation is only in the hands of the Americans,” he said.

“We want foreign troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan,” he added. “If there are troops in Afghanistan then there will be a continuation of the war.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was expected in Doha ahead of Saturday’s conference on the Syrian civil war.

While in Qatar, Kerry is also expected to meet with the Taliban but timing was unclear. On Wednesday in Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. had “never confirmed” any specific meeting schedule with Taliban representatives in Doha. It is still not clear if Taliban will really come to talk or not. And that’s a situation of doubt and uncertainty.

But Taliban authorities hinted at peace talks in their own ribbon-cutting ceremony. In that ceremony they unfurled their flag and Taliban leaders gave speeches. They said, they are “eager to talk with Washington”, but no one is sure they are serious.

At the ceremony, though the Taliban welcomed dialogue with Washington, said their fighters would not stop fighting. Hours later, the group claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on Bagram Air Base outside the Afghan capital, Kabul, that killed four American service members.

Prospective peace talks are also still in question, especially after Afghan President Hamid Karzai became infuriated by the Taliban’s move to cast their new office in Doha as a rival embassy.

So, only future will provide answers if talk is possible or not. But for now, Taliban leaders are discussing ways to free U.S. army captive Bowe Bergdhal who has been in captivity since 2009. Taliban leader Shaheen Suhail offers him in exchange for Guantanamo captives.

 

Written by: Jayeeta Shamsul

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