The brazen assault last week by the Taliban in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital raises doubts about how serious the group is about negotiating peace for that war-torn country.
A vehicle carrying attackers and explosives made it into a secured zone in Kabul near the presidential palace and a Central Intelligence Agency compound, killing three private guards. The strike followed two others by the Taliban this month. Militants set off a bomb June 11 that killed 17 civilians outside the country’s Supreme Court; a day earlier seven suicide bombers died in explosions they detonated at Kabul International Airport.
The killings run counter to the Taliban’s stated desire, restated last week at their political office in Qatar, to sit down with President Hamid Karzai’s government and U.S. officials to broker a way forward for Afghanistan. But the organization’s words of cooperation contradict their acts of violence.
The fear and bloodshed are particularly ill-timed, because the U.S. military has formally handed over control of security in all of Afghanistan to Afghan forces. Although the U.S. withdrawal must stay on track and talks would help with the transition, it’s hard to see how a bomb-wielding Taliban will be welcomed as negotiating partners.