Donnelly: Taliban Talking Peace Is Sign Of The Group's Weakness
Senator visited Afghanistan 2 months ago; says transfer of power went according to plan
Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) (wibc.com file photo)
The U.S. will soon begin peace talks with the Taliban, and some critics say this legitimizes a terrorist organization. But Indiana's junior senator says a recent trip to Afghanistan makes him believe the opposite is true.
Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, visited Afghanistan two months ago, meeting with U.S. military commanders and Afghan leaders. He says the transfer of power from the U.S.-led coalition to the Afghan National Security Forces, which has now been formally completed, went according to the schedule he saw. "The targets we were looking to hit, we've hit. The Taliban are beginning to understand that the Afghan Security Forces are holding, that the plan is working and that they are being more marginalized every single day," Donnelly said.
While U.S. officials will meet with members of the Taliban in Doha, Qatar on Thursday, Donnelly says those talks were agreed upon by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other leaders as the best way to secure their country. "What it's an acknowledgement of, I think, is that the Taliban is getting a weaker and weaker hand all the time, Donnelly said, adding that the Taliban failed in its effort to disrupt the transfer of power away from U.S. control. The Senator believes the Taliban agreed to negotiations as a way of saving face after being weakened since the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces.
The Armed Services Committee recently finished work on the new defense spending bill. Donnelly says it provides ample funding for the U.S. to finish the transition to Afghan control without leaving gaps that could be exploited. The bill is out of committee and on its way to the Senate floor, and Donnelly says he believes the companion spending bill in the House is also on track.