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Talks with the Taliban?

January 13th, 2012 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

I’m reading this and thinking first of all, “We are in talks with the Taliban?” and second, “Who leaked a Top Secret report?” Guess that little gem is not under investigation…

The news covered the whole “Marine Pissing on Dead Taliban” yesterday and it comes out that the Taliban doesn’t think this will effect talks with them.  So I guess we are going back to first base on Afghanistan and in talks with allowing them to come back to Afghanistan?  Sounds like they are just waiting for us to leave and then move back in to set up shop.  Does this mean the last ten years was really for nothing?  It would be the ultimate slap in the face to me if I lost a child over there.  Funny how one thing like the “Peeing” incident opens up other cans of worms that are salted away in the back room.

Miami Herald January 12, 2012 Pg. 4 U.S. Report: Taliban Want To Rule Again A U.S. intelligence assessment says the Taliban still want to impose Islamic rule on Afghanistan, dimming hopes for any peace deal. By Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy News Service WASHINGTON — A new top-secret U.S. intelligence assessment warns that Tali-ban leaders haven’t abandoned their goal of reclaiming power and reimposing harsh Islamic rule on Afghanistan, raising doubts about any peace deal that the Obama administration tries to broker between Kabul and the insurgents. The National Intelligence Estimate presented to President Barack Obama last month also concluded that security gains won since last year’s 30,000-strong U.S. troop surge might be unsustainable, a finding that top U.S. commanders and the White House dispute, according to U.S. officials and people familiar with the report’s findings. “We have heard that the report offers a very dire assessment. We don’t agree,” said a senior U.S. defense official, who like all of those whom McClatchy interviewed for this report spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The NIE came as the White House is examining ways to start peace talks as an American troop drawdown and a phased handover of security responsibilities to Afghan forces are completed in December 2014, the officials and knowledgeable people said. The assessment is expected to be finished before a NA-TO summit in May. Obama has said repeatedly that the longest war in U.S. history can be settled only through negotiations between the Afghan government and the insurgents — not by force.

Earlier this month, the Pakistan-based Taliban leadership agreed after a year of secret contacts to open a political office in the Persian Gulf kingdom of Qatar, raising U.S. hopes that peace talks might be possible. U.S. officials caution that negotiations are a long shot and could take several years to convene, leaving lots of time for the effort to collapse. “Nothing has been concluded. We are still in the preliminary stages of testing whether this can be successful,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday in announcing that U.S. special envoy Marc Grossman would travel to Afghanistan next week to pursue the initiative.

Before it embraces the opening of the Qatar office, the administration is looking for confidence-building measures from the Taliban — such as renouncing violence and observing cease-fires in select areas of Afghanistan — said a person who’s familiar with the issue. The two sides also would have to deal with other issues. Already, officials said, the insurgents are refusing to admit an Afghan government representative to the discussions, something that Washington assured Afghan President Hamid Karzai it would seek. The Taliban also are spurning participation by Afghanistan’s neighbor Pakistan.

The White House, meanwhile, is still considering a Taliban demand for the release of five high-value detainees from Guantánamo Bay, a U.S. official said. “Where this is headed is very uncertain,” one knowledgeable person said. While in power from 1996 to 2001, the fundamentalist movement staged public executions; barred women from work and education; forced men to grow beards; persecuted religious minorities; and harbored al-Qaida and allied terrorist groups. The NIE “is very pessimistic,” a U.S. official said. “There is no indication that the Taliban are ready to settle for a goal short of total control over an Islamic emirate.”

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