News / Asia

Analysts Unclear on Impact of Taliban Prisoner Release

Ayaz Gul
Five senior members of Afghanistan’s Taliban who were recently freed by the United States in a controversial exchange for an American soldier are said to have rejoined their families in Qatar after 13 years in custody.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the released men are recuperating in Qatar with their families. Speaking to VOA by phone, Mujahid did not comment on whether the Taliban leaders will join the group’s diplomatic representation in the Qatari capital, Doha.
 
The Taliban spokesman said "they are frail, weak and sick, and need proper rest,” adding “let their health come back to normal and it will then be decided what their future role will be.”
 
The prisoner swap took place on May 31 when the United States released the Taliban detainees from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to secure the release of American Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The militant group handed Bergdahl over to American troops in an eastern Afghan province.
 
Both sides have acknowledged the deal was brokered by the Qatari government with an understanding the freed Taliban leaders will live under restrictions, including a one-year ban on their travel. 
 
On Wednesday, the Taliban released a video showing its fighters handing over Bergdahl to the U.S. military. The video also contained scenes in which the five Taliban detainees are shown joyously embracing their colleagues after arriving in the Qatari capital. 

WATCH: Taliban video of Bergdahl release
 
Taliban Video of Release of US Soldier Sgt. Bergdahli
X
VOA News
June 04, 2014 11:02 AM
Footage of Taliban video released Wednesday showing the handover of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who was freed Saturday as part of a prisoner exchange. The 17-minute video, made public on Wednesday, shows Bergdahl clean shaven, including his head. He is dressed in a white traditional Afghan robe. The soldier is initially seen sitting in a pick-up truck that is parked on a hillside. He blinks constantly and rubs his eyes in the bright sunlight. Several armed men stand nearby.

The Taliban members include former Herat provincial governor and founding member of the Taliban, Khairullah Khairkhwa, former chief of the army staff Mullah Mohammad Fazl, former civilian head of the northern zone Norullah Nuri, and former deputy head of intelligence Abdul Haq Wasiq.
 
The fifth man, Mohammad Nabi Omari, is being described as a relatively minor figure associated with the Haqqani network that was holding the American soldier.
 
Kate Clark, a long-time observer of Afghan affairs and a senior member of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network, is skeptical about the effectiveness of the Taliban men freed from Guantanamo.
 
“If they were extremely important people in 2001, we do not know what they are now, what sort of men they are now. They have been in detention for 13 years. They have been away from a movement that has changed erratically. The Taliban now is very, very different from how it was in 2001,” said Clark.
 
President Barack Obama is under fire from lawmakers at home who say they were not informed about the prisoner swap and accuse him of breaking the law. Some lawmakers have expressed concerns the freed Taliban leaders will rejoin the insurgency in Afghanistan to damage gains the country has made with the help of the United States.
 
Clark, however, says these concerns are misplaced in view of the ground realities in Afghanistan.
 
“It is difficult to see how they will add to the insurgency, and on the other side of course you have got Afghan security forces who have proven themselves as much more able than a lot of people predicted. So, I think from that point of view the American critics of the release are really blowing these people up into something that they are not,” said Clark.
 
Taliban spokesman Mujahid says that the prisoner exchange was negotiated as a one-off deal and there were no conditions attached, and no stipulations the insurgent group would open peace talks with the Afghan government.

U.S. diplomats in Kabul have also made it clear that talks with the Taliban were limited to only securing the release of Bergdahl and there were no discussions about the Afghan peace and reconciliation process. 
 
Mujahid tells VOA that shortly after the Taliban posted the video of the handover of the American soldier on its website, the page hosting it went down for few hours because it was flooded with visitors from across the globe.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
June 05, 2014 12:06 PM
Why were the (5) senior Taliban released? --- The US has been in negotiations for over (4) years with the Taliban, trying to get an agreement on the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan without the Taliban attacking them -- and the release of the (5) Taliban prisoners was the sticking point, (because), they will be the senior negotiators for the Taliban in any deal on a (no attack) on withdrawing US troops...

The (5) senior Taliban leaders will handle the negotiations on the US deal to get US troops out of Afghanistan without getting slaughtered -- and the US used Bergdahl as (camouflage) to cover up their real intentions.... (The official Taliban headquarters is in Qatar, isn't it?).

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs