Gullab Mangal, the governor of Afghanistan’s restive Helmand Province, says that with last week’s election out of the way, his government will now focus on reconciliation efforts with the Taliban as its top project.
Governor Mangal says that there has been considerable interest among “middle-level Taliban” in the reconciliation effort, though he didn’t specify exactly what his efforts would entail, nor did he provide any clue how soon results could be expected.
Rumors of a reconciliation with the Taliban have persisted for years, most recently earlier this month when President Hamid Karzai’s brother Wali claimed to have reached a secret deal to prevent attacks on the election. The elections were, of course, marred by considerable violence, and no deal appears to have actually been reached.
Most of the hope has been that the so-called middle-level, the local commanders, are largely non-ideological and are simply backing the side which pays the best and offers the best chance of success. While the Afghan government can probably count on its Western occupiers to fund efforts to buy off such commanders, the growing military failures in the nation are likely to make such efforts difficult and expensive.