Despite news reports of high-level talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, no significant peace negotiations are under way in Afghanistan, U.S. officials and Afghanistan experts said Thursday.
These same experts said the reports, which appeared in a number of U.S. media outlets, could be part of a U.S. “information strategy” to divide and weaken the Taliban leadership.
“This is a psychological operation, plain and simple,” said a U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s outreach effort.
“Exaggerating the significance of it (the contacts) is an effort to sow distrust within the insurgency, to make insurgents suspicious with each other and to send them on witch hunts looking for traitors who want to negotiate with the enemy,” said the U.S. official. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Ali Jalali, a scholar at the National Defense University and a former Afghan interior minister who maintains close contacts with the Afghan government, said he knew of no significant peace negotiations.
“There is a desire (by the Afghan government and its foreign backers) for talks with the Taliban and others, but the situation is not ready for these talks yet,” he told McClatchy. “There is a lot of smoke, but no fire.”