Now this is outreach to the Taliban: Hamid Karzai just offered Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s leader, safe passage to negotiate in Afghanistan.
According to The New York Times’ John Burns, Karzai has just delivered a major gesture.
Speaking of Mr. Omar, Mr. Karzai said, “If I hear from him that he is prepared to come to Afghanistan or negotiate for peace, I, as president of Afghanistan, will go to any length providing protection.”
He added, “If I say I want protection for Mullah Omar, the international community has two choices: remove me, or leave if they disagree.”
This was coupled with a throwing of the gauntlet. Karzai basically dared the Taliban to sit down with him, saying “they must prove themselves,” not just boast about their seriousness for peace.
Lots of smart people don’t believe Omar would seriously negotiate. Our old friend Dave Kilcullen recently said so to the New Yorker’s George Packer. Joe Collins, a former Pentagon official, thinks the whole idea of negotiating with the Afghan insurgency is doomed to fail if we don’t start killing more Taliban first.
And they may be right. But it’s looking more and more like we may get to test the proposition.
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