Taliban looking for a deal


Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday Taliban insurgent leaders were increasingly contacting him to try to find ways of making peace.

Afghan and Western military leaders and diplomats recognize talks will ultimately have to be held to end the Taliban insurgency which has claimed some 5,000 lives this year alone. But, they say, talks should be held from a position of strength.

"We have had an increasing number of contacts from Taliban from within Afghanistan and from Pakistan," Karzai told a news conference.

"These contacts have especially increased in the past seven or eight months. As a matter of fact only this week, I had more than five or six major contacts, approaches by the leadership of the Taliban trying to find out if they can come back to Afghanistan," he said.

The Taliban are far from being a unified group, NATO commanders caution, and while some leaders may be willing to enter talks, they do not speak for the whole of the hardline Islamist movement.

But talks may be useful to bring over the more moderate elements within the Taliban and divide the insurgency, they say.

"If we are speaking of a centralized authority within the Taliban with whom we can talk for peace that is not there," said Karzai. "We don't know the figure or an office or someone that has contacted us representing the whole Taliban movement.

"We are willing to talk to those Taliban who are not part of al Qaeda or the terrorist network," he said.


One of the problems with this war is that the enemy has no central command and control and no one who is a "decider" who can make a deal for the group as a whole. However, the US has had a good response from various factions of the Iraqi insurgency who have rallied to our side and something similar may be at work in Afghanistan. This story is in mark contrast with a recent British report suggesting that half of Afghanistan was controlled by the Taliban. I think that report is absurd on its face. The Taliban have little control over any area and none when US or Afghan forces are in an area.


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