The Washington Post has a piece this morning that definitely falls into the "interesting if true" category. Sourced exclusively to people speaking anonymously, they report that the Karzai government and the Taliban are in preliminary, but serious, talks about a peace deal. The Post says that this is the first time that peace talks seem to be fully authorized by the Taliban leadership which is now based in Quetta, Pakistan.
"They are very, very serious about finding a way out," one source close to the talks said of the Taliban.
Although Omar's representatives have long publicly insisted that negotiations were impossible until all foreign troops withdraw, a position seemingly buoyed by the Taliban's resilience on the battlefield, sources said the Quetta Shura has begun to talk about a comprehensive agreement that would include participation of some Taliban figures in the government and the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops on an agreed timeline.
The leadership knows "that they are going to be sidelined," the source said. "They know that more radical elements are being promoted within their rank and file outside their control. . . . All these things are making them absolutely sure that, regardless of [their success in] the war, they are not in a winning position."
The idea of some sort of peace deal is not a new one. General David Petraeus has repeatedly said that some sort of peace and reconciliation deal is the only way to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan. Like in this interview with Morning Edition last month.
As I said in Iraq, when I was the commander there, you dont end an industrial strength insurgency by killing or capturing all the bad guys. You have to kill, capture, or turn the bad guys, and that means reintegration and reconciliation. In the case of Iraq, we reconciled with tens of thousands. It was, in Iraq, a major decision. We were actually going to sit down with individuals who had our blood on their hands and talk about reconciliation. Again, you're not going to kill or capture your way. Military action is absolutely necessary, but it is not sufficient.