June 29, 2011


The Truth Behind America’s Taliban Talks (Ahmed Rashid, 6/28/11, Financial Times)

In an attempt to avoid further speculation, I am laying out the bare facts of the talks as western officials have described them to me. The first face-to-face meeting between Taliban leaders and officials from the US government took place in a village outside Munich in Germany on November 28th 2010.

The meeting was chaired by a German diplomat and also there were Qatari officials whom the Taliban had asked to be present and involved. The talks continued for eleven hours.

The second round took place in Doha, the capital of Qatar on February 15th. Three days after the Doha meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the most far reaching US public statement to date, telling Americans, ‘’we are launching a diplomatic surge to move this conflict toward a political outcome that shatters the alliance between the Taliban and al-Qaeda, ends the insurgency, and helps to produce not only a more stable Afghanistan but a more stable region.’’

The third meeting took place again in Munich on May 7th and 8th. All the same participants have taken part in the three rounds which have largely involved trying to develop confidence-building measures between the Taliban and the Americans, such as lifting sanctions from the Taliban, the freeing of Taliban prisoners, the opening of a Taliban representative office and other steps.

On June 17th in a major step forward, the UN Security Council accepted a US request to treat al-Qaeda and the Taliban separately in relation to a list of global terrorists the UN has maintained since 1998. There will now be two separate lists and UN sanctions on al-Qaeda members will not necessarily apply to the Taliban making it easier to take the Taliban off the list – a major boost to the dialogue process.

Mr Karzai has been fully briefed after each round and has unstintingly supported the Taliban’s desire to hold separate talks with the Americans, even as his government continues their talks with the Taliban at several levels. Pakistani leaders have also been recently briefed about the talks, although they have expressed some reservations about them.

One US-German target is to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 2001 Bonn meeting that set up the Afghan interim government, with another international meeting in Bonn in December 2011 in which the Taliban will hopefully participate.

...if the Taliban were to prevail through the democratic process would we stand idly by if they decided to put an end to that process?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted by at June 29, 2011 5:55 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus