In-Depth: In June 2014, former Press Secretary Jay Carney said the White House “regard(s) the Taliban as an enemy combatant” but stopped short of calling it a terrorist group. Shortly thereafter, the National Security Council pointed out that the Taliban is on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, but not the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations — though both trigger asset freezes.
In October 2015, when announcing that he will keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of 2016, President Barack Obama did say:
“By now it should be clear to the Taliban and all who oppose Afghanistan’s progress, the only real way to achieve the full drawdown of U.S. and foreign troops from Afghanistan is through a lasting political settlement with the Afghan government, and likewise sanctuaries for the Taliban and other terrorists must end."
Of Note: Trying
to clarify distinctions surrounding whether to publicly call the
Taliban a terrorist organization may seem like nitpicking the finer
points of U.S. foreign policy — but it does have broader implications.
issue of the Taliban’s classification was a significant aspect of the
Obama Administration’s decision to negotiate with the Taliban for the
release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, which would have violated the U.S. policy against negotiating with terrorists. These negotiations led to the release of five Taliban detainees in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl — who was subsequently charged with desertion.
Recently the Taliban stated that it would enter peace discussions with the Afghan government — but only if all U.S. and coalition forces leave the country. That said, violence is ongoing in the country, despite ongoing reconciliation talks.
Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user ResoluteSupportMedia)