As is so often the case in Afghanistan, turmoil and confusion have clouded this week's announcement of peace talks involving the United States and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.
CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson explains what's happening, and why.
What are we talking about?
The Taliban have opened an office in Qatar with an eye toward beginning talks there with Afghan and U.S. officials to end the fighting in Afghanistan. U.S. officials are expected to meet Thursday with Taliban representatives in Doha, but Afghanistan said Wednesday it won't participate.
What's gone wrong?
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is upset about how the Taliban portrayed themselves in opening their Qatar office, and he feels there's a rush to talks. He wants to be in control the peace process, and he isn't.
So he's pulled his delegation to the Doha talks and backed out of direct discussions with the United States about what happens after 2014, when NATO withdraws from Afghanistan.
Who's saying what?
Karzai says there are "contradictions between acts and statements of the U.S. in regard to the peace process." He says that the Taliban are emphasizing a continuation of the fighting and that "foreign powers" -- read Pakistan -- "are behind the opening of the Taliban office" in Qatar.
The Taliban, which angered Afghan officials by flying their flag and provocatively calling themselves the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, say they're "fighting to bring an end to the occupation" by NATO forces.
Is the peace process over?
It's unlikely -- everyone has something to gain from a successful negotiation. The United States would get a dignified exit for most of its forces and an agreement on a long-term presence in Afghanistan. Karzai would get the legacy he craves as a peacemaker, and the Taliban would get a say in how the country is run.
President Barack Obama said we should expect "bumps in the road" and warned that this would be "a difficult process." And this is not the first time Karzai has stalled things.
But this is not a good start. Compromise seems to be in short supply.
What about the killing of 4 U.S. soldiers by the Taliban?
It is worrying that this came hours after the Taliban statement Tuesday. Is it coincidence or backlash? Some Taliban field commanders are unhappy with their representatives in Qatar, and behind the scenes, those close to the Taliban fear an uptick in violence near Kabul.
There's a risk that hard-liners will undermine leaders they don't trust in these talks. That's true in most peace negotiations. Some think representatives in Qatar will do Pakistan's bidding and want out of the fight now. Others may fight long after the majority agrees to peace.
Is there a grand bargain to be had?
International representatives close to the process in the past have told me not to rule it out. A bargain, where the Taliban accept U.S. bases in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 pullout date and where they agree not to attack them, is possible. The same people also say don't hold your breath, this has been a long time coming.
What are the demands?
The Taliban must renounce al Qaeda. In the past, the Taliban have demanded that all foreign troops leave the country and have asked for specific percentages of representation in the Afghan political and military structures. They also want their prisoners released from U.S.-controlled detention.
Taliban officials have said in the past that theirs is a national struggle and that al Qaeda has an international agenda. However, they would take support where they could get it. The demand to renounce al Qaeda has been made to the Taliban since their first tentative "talks" in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in 2008.
Which Taliban are we talking about?
The Taliban of Mullah Omar, the Afghan leader or the Emir of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan before September 2001. His right-hand man, Tayyab Agha, heads the Taliban mission in Qatar. Other principal Taliban and Afghan opposition factions include the Haqqani faction, the TTP or Pakistani Mehsud faction and the Hekmatyar faction in the North East.
Those close to Mullah Omar's Taliban say the vast majority of Taliban support him.