Brits in secret talks with Taliban?
Attempts by MI6 to thrash out peace deals with Taliban leaders in Afghanistan have sparked a rift with American commanders, who fear that British spy chiefs are being deceived by the hardline Islamist insurgents.The chances of an agreement with the Taliban are remote at best. There is also the further problem of those who reach agreements with us being able to impose their will on their associates. The only conceivable reason for pursuing the matter is an approach by the Taliban for terms of their surrender. There has been no indication that is on their minds.
US commanders are concerned that attempts to encourage some Taliban chiefs to defect are doomed to failure and that Secret Intelligence Service activities in Helmand province will undermine the war on terror.
The policy is also unpopular with some British Army units, which have been called upon to provide protection for MI6 officers meeting with Taliban commanders.
Officials in Washington last week expressed grave doubts about the British policy, comparing the new initiative to a failed deal last year in which British commanders were hoodwinked by the Taliban into abandoning the town of Musa Qala to militant forces.
Security sources in both London and Washington say that British spies are actively engaging in talks with Taliban leaders who appear motivated by tribal loyalties, rather than jihad.