People of Northwest Public Radio
Captured Idaho Soldier
Tue January 31, 2012
Taliban Experts Predict Many Setbacks Before Idaho Soldier Comes Home
Negotiations to release an Idaho soldier in Taliban captivity will be a long and slow process. That’s according to Middle East experts following peace talks about Afghanistan. News reports over the weekend suggested negotiations over a ceasefire had broken down. Correspondent Jessica Robinson has more.
Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, has been held by the Taliban since July of 2009.
Videos released by his captors show the 25-year-old Army sergeant ragged and pleading to come home. And that's a feat negotiators are reportedly trying to accomplish through a prisoner swap.
But Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations says prisoners are just one piece in a puzzle that involves conflicting interests within the Taliban. He says it could also potentially involve a different U.S. presidential administration.
Biddle: “I think the odds are very strong that it will carry over past inauguration day. Talks of these kinds usually take years anyway.”
Other experts are skeptical the talks can succeed at all. Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution says negotiators have to bridge a wide gap between U.S. and Taliban interests in Afghanistan.
Michael O'Hanlon: “For the communities and neighborhoods of Idaho who are especially concerned – as we all are – I think we have to avoid getting our hopes up too much because while there is a distinct possibility of a prisoner exchange, that would take a fair amount of progress relative to where we are now.”
Bergdahl's parents released a rare public statement on their son earlier this month. They said they're optimistic about diplomatic discussions and believe the talks are the most likely way to bring Bowe home.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network