OUR FRIENDS, THE TALIBAN?
Last week a Pakistani jihadi leader told the Asia Times that he had set up a meeting between U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials and Taliban leaders to discuss the seriously deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. At the meeting, held at a Pakistani air-force base, FBI officials floated the possibility that the Taliban might have a role in the future Afghan government on four conditions: that Mullah Omar be removed as leader, that foreign combatants engaged in fighting against U.S. and allied troops be deported, that any captive allied soldiers be released and that Afghans currently living abroad be brought into the government.
...Right now, two main factions -- the Karzai-led, pro-U.S. forces, and the Northern Alliance-led troops that tilt toward Russia and Iran -- are competing for control of Kabul. This competition is compounded by the fact that thousands of refugees, many of them former communists, are streaming back into the country. The interim Karzai government will run its course in October, when a new grand council will deliberate on the country's future.
To sum up, then, according to this report, the United States is now willing to consider the Taliban a legitimate player in a reorganization of the government provided it meets the four conditions, three of which aren't particularly onerous (the Taliban already indicated flexibility on these demands, the report said), while the fourth -- the removal of Mullah Omar -- is the sort of thing that can be easily finessed. All for the sake of "stability" and, in a jarring Cold War echo, boxing in the assembling reds.
--Michael Tomasky in The American Prospect