The 21st Century Phenomenon



Five top Taliban leaders held in Guantanamo told a visiting Afghan delegation they agree to a proposed transfer to the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, opening the door for a possible move aimed at bringing the Taliban into peace talks, Afghan officials said Saturday 03/10/2012.The USA is considering transferring the five from Guantanamo to a presumably less restrictive custody in Qatar as an incentive for the Taliban to enter negotiations—though Washington has not yet outright agreed to the step, and some in Congress oppose it.

Talks with the Taliban are seen as key to bringing some level of calm to Afghanistan, allowing American troops to come home without the country descending into further chaos (see – Petraeus W Plan). But months of efforts to cobble together talks have failed (see – Enigmatic-Peace).

Afghan President Hamid Karzai initially opposed sending the prisoners to Qatar instead of home to Afghanistan. But his government sent a delegation to Guantanamo Bay this past week to visit the prisoners, a possible sign of Karzai’s consent to the arrangement. The five prisoners agreed to the transfer as long as they would be reunited with their families in Qatar, said two senior Afghan officials (see also – Taleban Doha Office).


The prisoners proposed for transfer include some of the detainees brought to Guantanamo during the initial days and weeks of the U.S. invasion that toppled the Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2001. At least one, Mullah Norullah Nori (pic), has been accused in the massacre of thousands of Shiite Nuslims in Afghanistan, according to U.S. and other assessments, but none are accused of directly killing Americans.
Of particular concern is Mullah Norullah Nori, described in U.S. military documents as one of the most significant former Taliban officials held at Guantanamo. He was a senior Taliban commander in Mazar-e-Sharif when the Taliban fought U.S. forces in late 2001 (see – Qala-i-Jangi). He previously was a Taliban governor in two provinces Northern Afghanistan, where he has been accused of ordering the massacre of thousands of Shiite Muslims.

The Taliban have agreed to set up a political office in Qatar to facilitate negotiations. But the peace process has been shrouded in rumor and uncertainty, and it’s unclear how much urgency the militants feel to strike a deal given that foreign troops are on their way out.

A total of 171 detainees were still being held at Guantanamo as of this month, Reuters reports.
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