In December 2011, at a major conference in Bonn attended by ninety foreign ministers, the Taliban were on the verge of accepting US conditions that would allow them to open a political office in Doha. The Americans had held four rounds of direct secret talks with the Taliban that had started in November 2010 thanks to mediation mainly by German diplomats and Qatar.
However, at the last minute, Afghan President Hamid Karzai balked and refused to agree to the terms for opening the Taliban office, citing that he had not been adequately consulted by the US or Germans – which was untrue.
It has taken nearly two years for all the players to get back to where they were at Bonn that cold December and once again try and open a Taliban office in Doha. Yet the latest attempts to do so were shambolic – for which everyone, including the Americans, shares part of the blame.