Winds of hope?
Moderate leaders of the Taliban say they have quietly and steadily made progress in third-party talks between the active Taliban insurgency and representatives of the Afghan and U.S. governments.
Two Taliban leaders — who held high-ranking positions in the now-deposed Taliban government and who are directly involved in the talks — say they’ve recently established a framework of an agreement through the shuttle negotiations. They say the process has included contact with the spiritual leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar.
The talks began last year under the auspices of Saudi Arabia and have involved a series of secret meetings in Mecca, including a gathering several months ago. Observers have for months maintained that the Saudi talks have produced more rumors than real progress.
But now, in extensive interviews with GlobalPost two former Taliban officials directly involved — Abdul Hakim Muhajid and Arsenal Rahmani — said negotiations have gained momentum and laid the groundwork for real movement.
Rahmani went so far as to say a deal could be reached before Afghanistan’s August presidential elections.
All sides seem to agree a new diplomatic tone and military strategy set by Washington has contributed to the momentum. President Barack Obama earlier this year called for negotiations with moderate elements of the Taliban. CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus has discussed the need for a more complex approach to dealing with what he calls “reconcilables” within the insurgency. Source