A briefing paper
by the British Royal United Services Institute includes interviews with several Taliban members who were close to Mullah Omar. One was a former minister in the Taliban government. Those interviewed thought that a negotiated settlement to the Afghan conflict was possible.
Up until now the Taliban have insisted that withdrawal of all foreign troops was a condition of any peace deal. However this group said that the Taliban were prepared to work with the U.S. and negotiate both long-term security arrangements and even the continuation of the presence of U.S. troops in some form. However, there are a number of conditions that are laid down.
The Taliban will refuse to negotiate with President Karzai or his administration. This obviously presents a huge problem for the U.S. since it recognizes the Karzai government as the legitimate government of Afghanistan even though they might agree with the Taliban when they complain the Karzai government is weak and corrupt!
The Taliban are willing to break all links with Al Qaeda
and even help secure Afghanistan against Al Qaeda infiltration. They are also open to certain reforms. The Taliban wish to stop all attacks on teachers and health-care workers. They would also agree to introduce mathematics and sciences in both religious and other schools. However, they would not agree to co-education of sexes. They also admitted that Taliban policies needed to be altered in the light of changing forces in modern Afghan society. The Taliban clearly want the deal to return them to a position of prominence in Afghanistan. U.S. officials so far have not commented upon the paper.
The paper points out t
hat those interviewed are just one faction of the Taliban and any agreement would require the approval of Mullah Omar:
The unwavering consensus amongst our interviewees was that for an agreement to hold, it would ultimately require approval by Mullah Mohammad Omar.Therefore, our focus was trained mainly on the Quetta Shura and its leadership structure..our assessment is that the interlocutors we spoke to present the views of the moderate wing of the Taliban leadership, centred on the PoliticalCommission. We have less confidence in the extent to which these views may be attributed to the more hard-line section of the Talibancentred on the Military Commission.
Even if there were an agreement between this faction and the U.S. clearly it might not receive the endorsement of the leader and perhaps the Taliban might be split on any agreement. There are also other insurgents in Afghanistan than this particular group of Taliban. Even so, if any agreement were made with these Taliban no doubt the level of insurgency would be much less and other groups might be forced to stop fighting as well.