Millennium Post

Can Uncle Sam, Talibans kiss and make up in Afghanistan?

Can Uncle Sam, Talibans kiss and make up in Afghanistan?
The Taliban is prepared to completely disown Al Qaeda, allow the US to retain several military bases in Afghanistan and agree to a ceasefire deal to end its 11 year conflict with NATO, a new report released here on Monday claimed. The group, which was ousted by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, is now willing to cooperate with the US on security and take part in peace negotiations in return for international political recognition, the study by London based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) said.

The study RUSI said was based on interviews with four senior Taliban figures close to the organisation's leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, including former government ministers, one of the group's founding members and a Mujahideen commander, the Telegraph reported.

The study quoting Taliban commanders says a negotiated settlement for Afghanistan that could allow the majority of western troops to withdraw in 2014 without the country descending into renewed chaos. The report runs contrary to trends on the ground, where peace talks scheduled to be held in Doha, Qatar have hardly made any headway and there is no let-up in Taliban offensive in Afghanistan.

According to the report, the Taliban representatives believe there is ‘no natural enmity’ with the Americans, and that they would be prepared to accept a long-term US military presence in the country if it helped Afghan security. Under the plan, five US military bases could operate in Kandahar, Herat, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul to help rebuild Afghanistan up to 2024.

The Taliban figures expressed hope that military assistance would translate into economic assistance over time. According to the paper, the group's leadership and 'base' deeply regret their past association with al-Qaeda and would obey a command to completely renounce the group once a ceasefire had been agreed.

The four Taliban representatives said that while they could not speak for the more hardline military commission, Mullah Omar had broad control over all factions and he supported the plan.


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