Taliban Sees U.S. Soldiers Leaving Afghanistan as a Victory

Afghanistan's Taliban abandons the diplomatic approach in finding a political…

Afghanistan’s Taliban abandons the diplomatic approach in finding a political end to the protracted 12-year war, vowing to fight on against President Hamid Karzai’s government.

Experts said Tuesday that the final withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014 offered the Taliban the hope of a military victory while limiting their incentive to press ahead with peace talks. The Taliban, they said, envisioned the talks more as a means of gaining legitimacy than as a road to peace.

“I think the big gorilla in the room is the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. It decreases the likelihood of a settlement because it raises the prospects of Taliban military gains,” said Seth Jones, a counterinsurgency expert at the Rand Corp., a Washington-based think tank that receives U.S. funding. “Settlements usually occur when both sides reach a stalemate and see little prospect for change in the foreseeable future.”

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