Is the Taliban Ready for Peace Negotiations?

After years of holding firm on their requirements for peace negotiations, the Taliban might have altered their position about negotiating an end to the decade of conflict and violence in Afghanistan.

In the past, the Taliban has stood firm that negotiations with the Hamid Karzai government would not proceed until foreign troops left the country.

However, in statement released by Taliban leader Mullah Omar for Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, some are holding that Omar’s statements eluded to the potential that the Taliban may be opening up to the idea of negotiations.

The statement is igniting hope because it is the first time Mullah Omar has not "flatly rejected" the notion of negotiations while troops remain in the country.

Mullah Omar's statement began with a discussion on how the enemy has sustained more casualties in "soul and equipments this year" in comparison with last year and added that with each day the Mujahideen become more aware of enemy tactics, allowing the Taliban to down aircrafts and expand its Jihad movement.

Some analysts argue that hope for peace negotiations arises at the end of Omar’s statement when he concluded that for the purpose of creating an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan that “every legitimate option" can be considered by the insurgent group in order to attain this goal.

Mullah Omar’s statement also addressed officially confirmed reports of clandestine U.S.-Taliban talks regarding the capture of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. During the three days of negotiations, the Taliban called for the U.S. to release Taliban prisoners.

With regards to the talks he added, “The contacts which have been made with some parties for the release of prisoners can’t be called a comprehensive negotiation for the solution of the current imbroglio of the country.”

The U.S.-Taliban talks were becoming substantive but were curtailed after they were leaked, some argue by a worried Karzai government. Now analysts have expressed fear that the broken down talks may have ruined the best chance yet of the U.S. to reach Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Nevertheless, some believe that Mullah Omar admitting to the negotiations with the U.S. is a big step that may signify a widening in the Taliban perspective on peace negotiations.

Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has also used the holiday to call on the Taliban to stop violence and join the peace process.

Karzai told reporters on Tuesday morning, “Once again I call on all brothers and oppositions to give up violence, stop killing their brothers and join the peace process in the country.”

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