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What Afghans Think About Negotiating With the Taliban

One other interesting aspect of that new poll about Afghan public opinion is what the poll found about the prospect of negotiating an end to the conflict with the Taliban:

Negotiations are another way forward – one with public support, but with preconditions. All told, 64 percent of Afghans say the government should negotiate a settlement with the Taliban in which they’re allowed to hold political offices if they agree to stop fighting. But among those who support negotiations, most by far, seven in 10, say talks should occur only if the Taliban stop fighting first.

There of course would need to be an effort to induce the Taliban to stop fighting and start negotiating, but really, this is how insurgencies usually end: through co-optation rather than outright defeat or victory. That’s why it shouldn’t be a surprise that U.S. military commanders are entertaining the prospect of “reconciliation.” Interestingly, 33 percent of Afghans say the war will indeed end in a Taliban defeat, while another 33 percent expect a negotiated settlement. Only eight percent foresee Taliban victory.

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