Over the past 10 years of NATO’s occupation of Afghanistan, rumors of Taliban peace talks have come and gone. Sometimes dying with a denial by Taliban leader Mullah Omar, something just vanishing on their own. This time, however, is different.
That’s because for the first time since the US-led invasion began, Mullah Omar has released a statement today confirming that such talks have begun, added to his long-standing demand that the occupation forces withdraw and that the US release Taliban captives from Guantanamo Bay.
The Guantanamo releases have been rumored at any rate, though the US State Department was quick to insist that no decision has been made to actually do so. Obviously the withdrawal from Afghanistan is not being considered at all.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has also endorsed the talks, saying it was necessary for negotiations to take place to end the war. That endorsement is said to have been a lukewarm one, however, as he has been placed in a very secondary role in such talks. Taliban leadership has often rejected negotiating with Karzai on the grounds that his government only exists at the pleasure of the occupation forces and as such he has no real negotiating power. The Afghan president may be coming to realize, as the talks begin, that the Taliban was right about him all along.