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Might the Taliban Negotiate for Peace?

May 21, 2009

When the war in Afghanistan began after September 11th, its commencement was an explicit recognition that those responsible for the attack on New York were being supported and encouraged by the Taliban regime there. The rationale for that war included destroying the ability of the Taliban to support more attacks on the US and elsewhere. The war was made all the more necessary by the impossibility of any kind of negotiated settlement; even were it so inclined, the US would not have been able to provide Al-Qaeda or the Taliban with what it claimed it wanted: the imposition of Muslim rule and sharia law in countries around the world, among other apocalyptic demands. While the conditions in Afghanistan are still precarious after the long war, and while the US is planning on an influx of at least 20,000 more troops, there are signs that the Taliban are willing to cease hostilities under the right circumstances. From The Daily Beast, referencing a story in the New York Times:

Could the Taliban be negotiating an end to the war in Afghanistan? According to a report in the New York Times, leaders of the Taliban and other Afghan insurgent groups are talking with the Afghan government through intermediaries about peace. The talks may fall flat though, as the insurgents are demanding a timetable for an American withdrawal just as the U.S. has committed 20,000 more troops. While the Obama administration has publicly attempted to lure “moderate” Taliban fighters away from the struggle, it says it’s not involved in these negotiations. On the other hand, the U.S. isn’t trying to stop the talks, which Afghan officials believe is tacit support for the discussions. While the insurgents’ initial conditions are nonstarters, they suggest that a political settlement may still be able to end this war.

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