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McChrystal’s Not So Hot on Taliban Reconciliation

Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal expressed skepticism about the prospects for both cleaving al-Qaeda from the Taliban and for reincorporating the Taliban within the Afghan government. “I don’t think the Taliban have any reason to turn their back on al-Qaeda,” he told Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), saying it “might be easier to fragment the Taliban,” but he doesn’t spend much time dwelling on how so-called reconciliation efforts — which the Karzai government endorses — might proceed. Following up when it’s Sen. John Thune’s (R-S.D.) turn to question him, McChrystal says he doesn’t anticipate that “the Taliban would make a credible” agreement to renounce al-Qaeda in return for joining the political order. “The working coalition might have former Taliban [in it], but right now I can’t see them being a credible” governing partner.

That’s not so different than what Afghan ministers and other senior U.S. officials have said about Taliban reconciliation, but those other figures tend to lend support for reconciliation as, at the least, an aspiration. McChrystal appears to be more skeptical in tone, if not entirely in substance.

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