According to sources inside Afghanistan, Taliban leader ‘Mullah’ Mohammed Omar sent a secret envoy to President Hamid Karzai earlier this year to discuss his possible entrance into the Afghan government. This remarkable move culminated in Karzai’s recent offer of talks with the elusive cleric, followed by a Taliban announcement that the group would consider speaking with Kabul.
The moment is ripe for negotiations; diplomacy promises benefits to both Kabul and the Taliban’s political leadership. Unfortunately, this window of opportunity will most likely be squandered. For talks to succeed, Mullah Omar must play a central role in discussions between the Taliban and the Karzai government. But it is his centrality to any peace deal that sets a number of key external and internal actors against talking with the Taliban, making negotiations impossible. [complete article]