For many years now, the Afghan government and the Taliban have engaged in peace talks, talks about peace talks, and talks about the circumstances under which they could hold talks about peace talks. Throughout all of this, there has been steady Taliban disavowing of the process.
Today marks a dramatic shift in that effort, with the Taliban releasing an official statement from their reclusive leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, in which he officially endorses the peace process, saying the effort must always be to bring about the end of the occupation.
That’s a big change, as previously the Taliban’s policy was that ending the occupation needed to happen before the peace talks. The new statement insisted that such negotiations were acceptable under Quranic law and that the Taliban would concurrently fight and negotiate.
Omar’s statement also appeared to warn off ISIS, saying it was necessary for jihadists in the country to remain unified as the Taliban and vowing to prevent efforts by foreign elements to “disperse the mujahedeen” into different factions.