Karzai: US Deals for Soldier, But Not for Afghan Peace?

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Common Dreams

Karzai: US Deals for Soldier, But Not for Afghan Peace?

Bergdahl prisoner swap reportedly spurs indignation from nation's president

Jani and Bob Bergdahl speak in Boise, Idaho, about the release of their son, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan and held for five years. (Otto Kitsinger / Associated Press)

Jani and Bob Bergdahl speak in Boise, Idaho, about the release of their son, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan and held for five years. (Otto Kitsinger / Associated Press)

According to a source close to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the U.S. government went behind his back as it made a deal to exchange Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners held at the Guantanamo prison.

Karzai is angry, according to reporting by Reuters, because the deal proves that intense behind-the-scenes efforts were made for the prisoner exchange even as peace talks with the Taliban have continually failed despite nearly thirteen years of war.

"He is asking: How come the prisoner exchange worked out so well, when the Afghan peace process failed to make any significant progress?" said the source, speaking of Karzai.

Reuters adds:

Karzai has backed peace talks with the hardline Islamist Taliban movement, which ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 and has fought a bloody insurgency since then against U.S.-led forces in the country.

But they have come to little so far, and the group has moved swiftly to dash hopes that the prisoner swap would rekindle peace talks between it and the Afghan government.

"It won't help the peace process in any way, because we don't believe in the peace process," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Sunday.

The palace official also said Karzai was worried about further deals being cut without his knowledge.

"It indicates that other deals could be negotiated behind the president's back," he said.

It was announced over the weeked that Bergdahl had been released in exchange for the Taliban members. Controversy has ensued, with Republicans in Congress accusing Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel of overstepping their authority and "negotiating" with terrorists.

"What does this tell the terrorists? That if you capture a U.S. soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. He called the prisoner swap "very disturbing."

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