So, if you want to know why the US does not consider the Taliban to be a terrorist organisation, Josh Earnest, White House spokesman, has an explanation. A long explanation.
It’s an important point, one with all sorts of ramifications for how the US can and cannot engage with the Taliban.
But it gets complicated when someone asks how it is that the Treasury does consider the Taliban to be a terrorist group….
“The reason that the Taliban is listed on the (list targeting financial sanctions) — is for two reasons. One is they do carry out tactics that are akin to terrorism. They do pursue terror attacks in an effort to try to advance their agenda. And by designating them in the way does allow the United States to put in place some financial sanctions against the leaders of that organisation in a way that’s been beneficial to our ongoing efforts against the Taliban. Now, what’s also true, though, is that it’s important to draw a distinction between the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The Taliban has resorted to terror tactics, but those terror tactics have principally been focused on Afghanistan.”
This is the clear difference with Isil, for example, which has conducted its attacks predominantly in Iraq and Syria.
And why negotiations or a prisoner exchange is unacceptable with one, but not the other… Er, possibly.