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Talking to the Taliban (merged)

Four U.S. soldiers are killed, and the Taliban openly claim responsibility for this.  Ya, great way to start the peace process.
Nemo888 said:
They don't call it the graveyard of empires for nothing. Once they sabotaged our development efforts winning was out of our grasp. I was hoping they would change the name to let us save face. Time to learn some lessons so we don't repeat them.

Are we speaking about Pakistan or the Taliban?
I could see it go like Vietnam, Taliban claim peace, waiting for a couple months after NATO and its allies are out then jump back into it at full strength
Interesting piece on the little things that are pissing folks off ....
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday mulled his response to US efforts to repair damaged ties after a public spat over the Taliban opening an office in Qatar for peace talks.

Karzai and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke twice by telephone after the Afghan government became enraged that the office was opened in a blaze of publicity and US officials were apparently about to arrive for talks.

The office used the formal name of “Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan” from the rebels’ 1996-2001 government, and a Taliban spokesman at the opening press conference declined to say they supported the peace process.

Qatar has moved in to help defuse crippling tension.

“The office, which was opened on Tuesday is the Political Bureau of the Taliban Afghan in Doha, and not of the political bureau of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” an official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Qatar News Agency (QNA). “The official name that was agreed upon with regard to the opening of this office is the Political Bureau of Taliban in Doha.”

“John Kerry assured that the Qatari government has removed the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ sign from the Taliban office and the office is for peace talks only,” a statement from Karzai’s office said late Wednesday.

Karzai told Kerry that Afghan public opinion was “extremely negative” to the way in which the Taliban office had been unveiled in an event that many experts described as an international publicity coup for the rebels.

The office was opened with grand fanfare by the Taliban who endeavoured to display, through their flag flying from the building using the name - the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, prompting the Afghani government to feel “betrayed”.

A senior Afghan embassy official told Qatari daily Gulf Times that the controversy was over the name of the Taliban office in Doha in the statement released to the media on Tuesday and on the plaque of their office in the West Bay area of the Qatari capital.

He said they had been assured that the name for the building would not be used.

However, Sohail Shaheen, from the Taliban office in Doha, dismissed the objections to the name.

“They just want to deliberately create hurdles for us. We are interested in peace and our office (in Doha) is only for these efforts,” he told the daily. “But, it seems that they (the Karzai government) are not interested (in peace efforts). Inshallah, all such elements who are not interested in peace will be exposed,” he reportedly said ....
Gulf News, 20 Jun 13
More on the niggling bits, from the U.S. ....
The Taliban signaled a willingness to meet demands to keep their flag lowered as the U.S. warned Saturday that their newly opened political office in Qatar might have to be closed as talks aimed at ending nearly 12 years of war in Afghanistan remained in limbo.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the ball was in the Islamic militant movement’s court, urging the Taliban to step back from the brink and begin what he called the “difficult” road ahead. He said the main U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan was in Doha and “waiting to find out whether the Taliban will respond.”

The Taliban’s office opened Tuesday to much fanfare and a simultaneous announcement that U.S. officials would begin formal talks with Taliban representatives, which eventually would be joined by the Afghan government raised hopes that the long-stalled peace process aimed at ending Washington’s longest war could finally begin. But it ran into trouble from the outset when Afghan President Hamid Karzai temporarily withdrew from talks to protest the Taliban’s use of its old flag and a sign bearing the name of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which the movement used during its five-year rule that ended in 2001 with the U.S.-led invasion.

After intervention from the Qatar government, the flag was lowered and the sign changed to the “Political Bureau of the Taliban Afghan in Doha.” Both the U.S. and the Qataris said the Taliban had agreed on the pre-approved name but violated the pact at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

A Taliban spokesman in Doha, Shaheen Suhail, suggested the Taliban were willing to move forward despite “much anger” among some members over the removal of the name and the lowering of the Taliban flag — a white flag emblazoned with a Quranic verse in black ....

.... and from the Taliban's Info-machine (usual caveat:  don't link to Taliban sites if you don't want Taliban's webmeister to get your info - screen capture of statement also attached below):
Yesterday on the 21/06/2013, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper published a report regarding the use of the name and flag of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on its political office in Qatar. The said report quotes the U.S Secretary of State John Kerry as saying that they had signed an agreement with the leaders of Islamic Emirate regarding the use of flag and name ‘Political office of The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ on their political office while in reality, no such agreement has been signed nor does such an agreement exist although documents have been exchanged between the Islamic Emirate and the Qatari government regarding conditions of the office.

The raising of the flag and the use of the name of Islamic Emirate were done with the agreement of the Qatari government. The statement which states that by using the name and raising the flag, the Islamic Emirate somehow violated an agreement, then this allegation is completely false while the discord which arose due to panic by the Kabul administration is not related to the Islamic Emirate.
Latest from the Taliban's info machine (usual caveat:  don't click if you don't want Taliban webmasters with your info - screen capture of statement also available at non-terrorist Google Docs account here) - highlights mine:
On Tuesday, 18th June, the office of the Islamic Emirate was officially inaugurated inside Qatar. It was widely welcomed by the Afghan Nation. A large number of our countrymen sent their messages of felicitations through the Alemara website and other social media and have considered this office as the sign of Mujahidin’s success and the end of occupation; but on the other side the Kabul administration has shown their strong opposition with the inauguration of this office particularly with the name and white flag of the Islamic Emirate, therefore, if you, the spokesman of the political bureau of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Qatar, Dr. Mohammad Naeem, could please answer the following questions of the Alemara website! We will be thankful to you.

Alemara: Dr. Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman of the official bureau of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Qatar, how would the Islamic Emirate make use of this office?

Answer: First of all, I would like to say that the inauguration of the political bureau of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Qatar is great news, specially for the brave and courageous Mujahidin because whatever we possess, is just due to their persisting sacrifices that after 11 years, at last, the occupiers realized that the Islamic Emirate is a fact and a ground reality which can never be overlooked; while 11 years ago, the members of the Islamic Emirate had no right to live on the surface of earth, but today, it is recognized as a political force on the international level.

Now let me answer your query. This office will be used, as announced in the declaration which was read out on the first day of the inauguration of this office and was published through the Alemara website, for five main objectives:

    1.Negotiations and understanding for improving the relations with the world countries.
    2.Supporting a political solution which could guarantee the end of Afghanistan’s occupation and establishing an independent Islamic system of life there which is the aspiration and demand of the entire nation.
    3.Meetings with the Afghans in accordance with the need of time.
    4.Making contacts with the United Nations, international and regional organizations and non-governmental organizations.
    5.Issuing political statements regarding the existing political situation and providing them to the media.

Alemara: Will the Islamic Emirate pursue negotiations only with Americans through the office in Qatar or they will follow the policy of negotiations with other occupiers of Afghanistan?

Answer: Talks will be conducted with all sides involved in Afghanistan. Americans are mentioned mostly because they are on the top and in point of fact, the occupation was started by them; others supported it.

Alemara: Mr. Mohammad Naeem, if you could explain the agenda of the forthcoming meeting with Americans; in this meeting, only the issue of exchange of prisoners will be discussed or other issues will also be brought under consideration; if the issue of exchange of prisoners will be discussed, what kind of prisoners, those who are kept inside the country or those who are abroad?

Answer: Let me clarify first that the Islamic Emirate has postponed that meeting which was under consideration due to various reasons. Whenever it will take place, it will be the first such meeting between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and America as known to all; and usually, in preliminary meetings, both sides exchange their views only, therefore, specific points of the agenda cannot be pointed out now. As far as the issue of prisoners is concerned, it is quite crucial and will definitely be discussed. The Islamic Emirate has determined to have discussions about all the prisoners of the Afghan Nation and endeavors for the release of all of them. As far as, the response of the other side is concerned, it will be seen later by all of us.

Alemara: Mr. Dr. Naeem! Does the Islamic Emirate intend sooner or later to discuss the points of mutual interest for getting its relations better with the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan?

Answer: Why not! As the first paragraph of the declaration says, the Islamic Emirate will make the use of this office for improving its relations with all countries of the world and the neighbouring countries will be on the top of the list.

Alemara: Does the Islamic Emirate want or anticipate to discuss the termination of Afghanistan’s occupation through this political office in Qatar with the Islamic Conference, the United Nations, Arab League, European Union and the Shanghai Pact?

Answer: In this regard, I would like to say that as the declaration say, the Islamic Emirate will make contacts with the United Nations and other international and regional and non-governmental organizations and will share its viewpoint for solving the issues of the people of Afghanistan.

Alemara: The office of the Islamic Emirate in Qatar will remain on its previous stance over discussions with the Kabul admin or it has some plans under consideration, if you could explain?

Answer: As the Islamic Emirate has openly expressed in its declarations that the dilemma of Afghanistan has two main aspects; one is external which is related with the foreigners and the other is internal which is related with Afghans. Until the issue of the external aspect is not solved with the occupiers, it is useless to tackle the internal aspect. The third paragraph says that meetings with Afghans will also be held in accordance with the developments.

Alemara: Whether the office in Qatar will hold negotiations with parties and political and intellectual figures inside Afghanistan apart from the dependent regime of Kabul?

Answer: As we told you earlier that the third paragraph of the declaration clearly says that meetings will be held with all Afghans according to the exigency of situation. It is worth mentioning that all this will take in the light of Islamic principles and keeping in mind the national interests of Afghans.

Alemara: Our last question is about the rumors in media that due to the opposition and disappointment of the Kabul regime, the white flag and sign-board bearing the name of the Islamic Emirate are removed, if it is right, whether it is the infringement of the agreement regarding the inauguration of office or not?

Answer: It is a reality that the hoisting of flag and the sign-board of the Islamic Emirate troubled the Kabul administration. Let me say that the flag which was hoisted there, only the Islamic creed of “لا اله الا الله محمد رسول الله ” was written there and this the creed which cannot be denied by any Muslim.

In my opinion, if someone calls himself a Muslim, how can he oppose this creed and if someone opposes it then how can he call himself a Muslim. This creed should be accepted by each and every Muslim from the core of his hearth and I am sure that every Muslim does believe it and has a reverence for it. Allah Almighty says in His Holy Quran that “وکلمة الله هی العلیا”, “The creed of Allah is always superior.” One, who opposes this creed, is in fact opposing Allah Almighty and His Messenger, Mohammad (peace be upon him).

The flag of the Islamic Emirate which is embellished with “لا اله الله محمدرسول الله” is still waving there. Rumors of its lowering are only propaganda and the sign-board is changed neither, it is only shifted from one wall to the other.

From legal point of view, the Islamic Emirate has the right to hang a sign-board of its own inclination, because now it is the property of the Islamic Emirate and no one else has the right to make or dictate any alteration in it.
Do they really want to talk ? The taliban attacked the Presidential palace in Kabul yesterday.I suspect that they will wait until ISAF leaves,before they take on the ANA.If I were Karzai I would have my bags packed and a helo standing by.
Well, THAT lasted a long time, didn't it?
Afghanistan’s Taliban have shuttered a newly opened office in the Gulf state of Qatar, vowing to fight on against President Hamid Karzai’s government while abandoning a diplomatic approach seen as the best hope of finding a political end to the protracted 12-year war.

Experts said Tuesday that the final withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014 offered the Taliban the hope of a military victory while limiting their incentive to press ahead with peace talks. The Taliban, they said, envisioned the talks more as a means of gaining legitimacy than as a road to peace.

“I think the big gorilla in the room is the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. It decreases the likelihood of a settlement because it raises the prospects of Taliban military gains,” said Seth Jones, a counterinsurgency expert at the Rand Corp., a Washington-based think tank that receives U.S. funding. “Settlements usually occur when both sides reach a stalemate and see little prospect for change in the foreseeable future.”

The Taliban office, which opened less than a month ago to facilitate peace talks with the U.S. and Afghan government, was mired in controversy from the outset after the religious movement was accused of trying to set up a government-in-exile by identifying its office as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. It also hoisted the same white flag flown during the Taliban’s five-year rule of Afghanistan that ended with the 2001 American-led invasion.

Karzai reacted furiously and the Taliban lowered the flag and removed the sign. Both the U.S. and Qatar quickly chastised the Taliban and accused them of reneging on a promise to refrain from using either the name or the flag.

Now the office itself has been temporarily closed, a Taliban official familiar with the talks in Qatar said.

“They (the Taliban) do not go out of their homes in Doha and have not gone to the office since the removal of the flag and the plaque,” the Taliban official said in a telephone interview. He said the Taliban blamed Karzai and the U.S. for the breakdown in talks, accusing both of using the name and the flag as an excuse.

A diplomat in the region who is also familiar with the negotiations said: “The (Taliban) Political Commission has stopped all international political meetings and is not using the office.” ....
Army Times, 9 Jul 13
Back to talkin' about talkin' ....
The Taliban have held secret talks with representatives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to try to jumpstart a peace process that stumbled and stalled at the starting gate, according to Afghan officials and a senior Taliban representative.

The discussions with members of the Afghan High Peace Council have so far been unofficial and preliminary, seen as an attempt to agree on conditions for formal talks ....
.... while Mullah Omar reportedly says "yeah, we'll talk":
The Taliban’s reclusive leader said Tuesday that his group was willing to start peace negotiations, even as he urged more attacks — including insider shootings by government security forces — on foreign troops.

In a wide-ranging emailed message, Mullah Mohammad Omar blamed America and the Afghan government for the derailment of talks two months ago.

He also called on Afghans to boycott next year’s presidential elections, describing them as being manipulated by the United States.

In a message issued ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the one-eyed chief of the Afghan insurgency urged the army and police to turn their guns on foreign forces, government officials and the Afghan troops who are cooperating with the U.S.-led coalition forces ....
You can find links to the Eid al-Fitr message highlighted above here (links to Milnet.ca posting).
In this article, which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from Reuters, the "father of the Taliban," Maulana Sami ul-Haq, does soe talking about what happens when the Western allies withdraw:


Pakistani 'Father of Taliban' keeps watch over loyal disciples

By Maria Golovnina and Sheree Sardar


Sun Sep 15, 2013

(Reuters) - He is known as the Father of the Taliban, a radical Pakistani cleric who calls the Taliban's one-eyed leader an "angel" and runs a seminary described as the University of Jihad.

Bespectacled and soft-spoken, Maulana Sami ul-Haq is a revered figure in Pakistan and Afghanistan whose views carry enormous weight among the Taliban on both sides of the border.

Tucked away in a dusty Pakistani town off the main motorway to the Afghan border, his Darul Uloom Haqqania university was the launching pad for the Taliban movement in the 1990s and is still often described as the incubator for radical Islamists.

Speaking to Reuters at the sprawling campus near his native town of Akora Khattak, Haq did little to hide his sympathies for the Taliban, a word meaning "students" in Pashto. He said he was sure the Taliban would soon sweep back to power in Afghanistan.

"Give them just one year and they will make the whole of Afghanistan happy," Haq said. "The whole of Afghanistan will be with them ... Once the Americans leave, all of this will happen within a year."

Despite Haq's openly pro-Taliban views and connections, his seminary is recognized officially in Pakistan - a symptom of Islamabad's long-running duality over the Taliban issue.

Haq would not talk about this publicly but he is believed to be close to the Pakistani security forces - a legacy of an era when Pakistan sponsored movements and supported militants, including Osama bin Laden, fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

Kabul's government has long accused Pakistan of playing a double game and harboring militants on its soil while publicly condemning extremism - a charge Islamabad fiercely denies.

Back in the 1980s, many young Darul Uloom Haqqania graduates swapped books for guns and drove west along the highway running just outside its iron gates towards Afghanistan, where they joined mujahideen groups to fight against the Russians.

One of them, Mullah Mohammed Omar, later took advantage of the chaos that followed the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 to found the Taliban movement - a period often recalled with nervousness ahead of next year's drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

Omar is now believed to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun tribal regions on the Afghan border.

Haq's face brightened as he recalled Omar, one of his bests students, but laughed when asked about his whereabouts.

"He is a devout Muslim, very virtuous. He is hospitable. He is a very simple man, with no princely tastes," Haq said, alternating between Pakistan's official Urdu and his native Pashto language.

"He is very intelligent. He understands politics and is wise to the tricks of outsiders."

Haq added with conviction: "He is no aggressor. He is an angel-like human being."


The seminary, founded in 1947, is now one of biggest and most respected Islamic institutions in South Asia. It propagates a hard-line curriculum based on the radical Deobandi strain of Sunni Islam.

Fenced off from the hustle and bustle of the outside world by high walls and barbed wire, it houses 4,000 male students in its multi-storey concrete buildings.

Haq says he and his seminary have nothing to do with terrorism. He has even offered to mediate between the United States and militants in order to bring peace to Afghanistan.

Haq, who speaks fluent Arabic, said the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan visited him in July to discuss the situation in the region but added that peace was not possible as long as foreign troops were still in Afghanistan.

"As long as they are there, Afghans will have to fight for their freedom," Haq said. "It's a war for freedom. It will not stop until outsiders leave."

The Taliban were initially popular among Afghans after years of Soviet brutality and the ensuing anarchy of feuding warlords. But that quickly changed after they seized power and enforced puritanical restrictions on all spheres of people's lives.

After years of war there are hopes that the Taliban might be coaxed to the negotiating table or even turned into a political movement with the help of influential mediators such as Haq.

But would the Taliban still listen to him?

"They are my students. In our tradition, a teacher is like a father, like a spiritual leader," Haq said. "Afghans should be allowed to fight for their freedom. Foreign powers should get out and let them do what they want."

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

The Deobandi strain of Sunni Islam was inspired by the same (18th century) Muslim Indian guru whose followers developed Wahhabism. Many of the madrassas in Pakistan are funded by Saudi followers of Wahhabi Islam.
Some of the latest from Pakistani media ....
Taliban commanders refused to meet their former chief in Peshawar on Thursday because he was accompanied by Pakistani security agents, dealing a blow to attempts to resume Afghan peace talks, security and militant sources said.

Afghanistan and the US believe Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who has been held in Pakistan since 2010, holds the key to stopping the war in Afghanistan because he is influential enough to persuade his former comrades there to stop fighting.

Pakistan announced his release on September 20 but Baradar, the former Afghan Taliban second-in-command, is still in custody and watched closely by his Pakistani handlers, an arrangement which could undermine his role as a peacemaker.

Confirming these suspicions, an Afghan Taliban commander said Taliban figures refused to come to Peshawar to meet him because he was accompanied by Pakistani security officials.

"Following his release, he spent some time in Karachi and now arrived in Peshawar to hold meetings with senior members of the movement," the source said.

"Unfortunately, no one among senior Taliban leaders agreed to see him in Peshawar because security personnel are around him." It was unclear who Baradar wanted to meet and how long he would stay in Peshawar.

Two Pakistani security officials confirmed Baradar was in Peshawar for preliminary discussions about the peace process ....
You may not like it but the Taliban is largely composed of the Afghan people. They should have their right to democracy as much as any other person. Just because you don't like their political beliefs, it doesn't equate them, in a democratic society being silenced.

They are your enemy but if you take your blinders off you should realize that NATO-ISAF hasn't stopped the war either. Saying they want to talk but are still attacking the troops, is completely ignoring the fact NATO-ISAF is still attacking the Taliban, and other groups in Afghanistan.

Millions of Afghans are Taliban. They will still be there when most of NATO is not, that includes Canadians.

They are engaged in guerrilla war and have been for over 12 years now.  While they may only garner the support of 1 in 10 Afghanis, or 1 in 5 Afghani's, that is still major party status in places such as Canada. That is more support than the PQ has in Canada.

The factor of minority alienation is what leads to problems, including revolt. If the Taliban are willing to create a situation of peace, that is a good thing. The goal of war is not genocide, at some point the killing needs to stop.

For everyone who indicates they should all be exterminated, it is really unfortunate you can't be professional and support the fundamentals of human rights in non genocidal objectives. Is genocide really the desired outcome of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, if so the 12 years you had didn't come close to acheiving that objective. Not to be vexatious, but I am somewhat disturbed so many people here seem to view peace talks some revoliting occurence. I really don't understand that position.  They are Afghans. If there is only one Afghan state they should have a right of peaceful participation in that state without being unduely discriminated against or violated contrary to the principles of human rights.

I have to add I'm reading into your positions but some of the points highlighted are suspect to the fact, the Afghan security forces set up by Nato havn't stopped the war against the Taliban. 

The fixation on the Taliban seems to be likely a legacy of all the war propaganda, we hear nothing next to nothing about the Haqani Network, Hezb-i-Islami Gulbaddin (HIG), and Tahrek-I Taliban Pakistan (TTP). If we look to reports like Half in Afghanistan Believe the Taliban Have Moderated;
Most Back Settlement Talks, Even with Territorial Concessions
" http://www.d3systems.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Afghan_Futures_W2_Analysis-v6.pdf "  We are given a view that there is a beleif that the Taliban group is a moderate group, and like shifting political parties, the view and leadership of those organizations can drift over time as the composition and leaders of those groups changes with time. I can't say this is the case but the report would indicate that. The fact there are more extreme groups than the Taliban could serve to moderate that. Al Qaeda for instance operates independent of the Taliban, and is often viewed as a much more extremist group than the Taliban, who did not have massively radical views compared to other Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, the courts, and much of the world 100 or 200 years ago. It is easy to say their laws arn't the same as those in Canada, but cultures have different laws. Even Canada had burnings at the stake, hangings, and rather abusive forms of punishment only 100 to 150 years ago. It is a country that has been in a state of war for 30 or more years, the standards in that environment can be understandably watered down a bit.

The section "endgame" on the CFR.org site also explains why negotiation has been part of the strategy.  "http://www.cfr.org/afghanistan/taliban-afghanistan/p10551#p7 "

There really is no solution but to talk if violence is to be reduced.
There....there....it will be alright.....no more bad guys will come in the night....... :facepalm:
Much of the leadership of the Taliban has changed, mainly as they have been killed off. I suspect the Taliban as cohesive force will not rule Afghanistan again. Afghanistan has also changed and the conditions that allowed the Taliban to sweep unexpectedly (even for themselves) through the country do not really exist. With a minimal ISAF/US presence, the main issue to force the various factions to work together is much reduced. The US interests in Pakistan diminishes and with it, Pakistan's ability to twist our nuts goes as well. Pakistan will suck up more and more to China and refocus on the their tradition threat of India and ignore the plight of the NWF even more. The Taliban will lose much of it's support as the Islamic world focuses elsewhere and will rely more and more on drug money to sustain itself, losing more respect domestically and internationally.   
I despair of us ever understanding these people at an institutional level.

We lost the war as soon as we set our pullout to a schedule, by entertaining the prospect of negotiation we could not have done more to express our weakness and vulnerability.

Are westerners truly incapable of understanding eastern peoples?
The latest:  no movement. 
Secret contacts are again reported to be underway for an Afghanistan peace deal, but neither analysts nor the insurgents see hope they will succeed.

A Taliban official has told The Associated Press that least two ministers in Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government have met with Taliban representatives in the United Arab Emirates, at a time when Pakistan has been releasing dozens of Taliban prisoners in a bid to revive talks.

The talks in the UAE have gone nowhere, the official says, and Pakistan's national security adviser reports the releases have won no concessions from the Taliban.

A peace deal is critical to avoid a return to civil war when foreign troops leave at the end of this year. But there are many obstacles, some of which run in a circle ....
Quelle surprise!