According to recent reporting from the Washington Post, the US is mounting a last-ditch effort to recover US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from his alleged Haqqani Network captors holding him in the lawless Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan.
This effort comes amidst the major drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan expected by the end of this year. As SOFREP has previously reported, Sgt. Bergdahl is the only living American POW, and one of two Americans currently being held hostage in Pakistan at this time.
In exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl’s release through a third party mediator, the US has offered a prisoner exchange for five Afghan Taliban fighters currently being held at Guantanamo Bay. While the US has offered such an exchange previously, the simultaneous release of all five Taliban fighters was never an option until now.
According to the Washington Post, this decision to release the five fighters simultaneously was made within the past month, most likely in light of the most recent proof-of-life video showing Sgt. Bergdahl in poor condition sometime around December of 2013.
The US has announced that any prisoner exchange between the US and Taliban will be mediated in Qatar, who has come under fire several times last year for enabling the Taliban to achieve a number of relatively significant political victories on the international stage. As SOFREP has previously reported, the Taliban in 2013 used the opening of one of their short-lived offices in Qatar as a tool to spread their propaganda, publicly question the legitimacy of the Karzai government, and to gain international attention on the world stage.
This recent push to recover Sgt. Bergdahl is highly significant due to the political nature of such a personnel recovery, which is completely controlled by the impending drawdown in Afghanistan as well as the state of Afghanistan-Pakistan relations. As SOFREP’s Bright Light has previously reported, at this point, any bids to recover Sgt. Bergdahl bears heavily on strategic-level discourse between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the US, each with their own strategic level objectives that need to be fulfilled.
While the events leading up to Sgt. Bergdahl’s captivity by the Haqqani Network has received significant conflicting reactions since his disappearance and subsequent capture in eastern Afghanistan in 2009, the fact remains that he is an American POW and needs to be brought home.
With few options remaining on the table, this last-ditch effort will hopefully provide the Taliban with the satisfaction they need to release Sgt. Bergdahl to the Qataris in good order. While US efforts to recover Sgt. Bergdahl are not likely to cease following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan should the recovery fail, the Taliban will likely realize their prime opportunity to recover five of their own fighters when they may not see another offer.
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