Afghan-US ties strained over the issue of Bergdahl-U.S. PoW Taliban swap
Afghanistan’s government has taken exception to a U.S. deal to release five high-risk Taliban militants in exchange for a U.S. soldier. Afghanistan argues that the release of the men from a Guantanamo Bay jail to Qatar transgresses international law.
The five prisoners were taken to Qatar as part of the deal to free army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only known U.S. prisoner of war (PoW) in Afghanistan, held captive for five years. Bergdahl was flown out of Afghanistan to a military hospital in Germany.
Who is Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl?
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is a US soldier who was deployed in Afghanistan war. He was captured by Taliban terrorists in 2009 and had been held captive for five years. As part of US efforts to free him, the country negotiated a deal cut by Qatari intermediaries to swap him in exchange of 5 Taliban militant who had been in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they had been held since it opened in 2002, and flown to Qatar where they must stay for a year.
Why Afghanistan protesting the US move?
Afghanistan is angry over the swap and suspects that the high ranked terrorists would rejoin the Taliban. It also says that no government can transfer citizens of a country to a third country as prisoners. At least two of them are suspected of committing war crimes, including the murder of thousands of Afghan Shias, according to leaked U.S. military cables. Many view the US move as a further sign of a U.S. intention to disengage from Afghanistan as quickly as possible. The US has plans to completely withdraw all of its troops by the end of 2016.