NEWSLINK: Shift by hard-line Taliban factions may have sealed prisoner exchange

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[“Exclusive: Shift by hard-line Taliban factions may have sealed prisoner exchange” – Reuters 6.1.14]

Reuters covers speculation about the internal politics of the Taliban, and how they might have impacted a recent prisoner-exchange deal with the United States.  The sole U.S. POW in Afghanistan was released in exchange for five of allegedly the most dangerous terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay being flown to Qatar.

Complicating … talks, U.S. officials said, was an internal split between Taliban factions willing to talk to Americans and those staunchly opposed.

After … earlier diplomatic efforts became public in late 2011, the Taliban’s leadership struggled to contain internal splits over a potential peace deal, U.S. officials said.

… in recent weeks … Taliban hard-liners reversed position, officials said. The shift cleared the way for the dramatic pick-up of Bergdahl … by U.S. Special Operations forces in remote eastern Afghanistan and the freeing of five Taliban detainees, who flew aboard a U.S. military aircraft from Guantanamo to the Gulf emirate of Qatar.

Apparently U.S. intelligence assessments of Taliban internal politics are spotty.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have long acknowledged a fragmented understanding of the Taliban’s internal politics.

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