We have been encouraging President Karzai to sit down with "reformed" Taliban who have sworn off fighting Americans but this appears to be something much different:
Taliban representatives and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai have begun secret, high-level talks over a negotiated end to the war, according to Afghan and Arab sources.
The talks follow inconclusive meetings, hosted by Saudi Arabia, that ended more than a year ago. While emphasizing the preliminary nature of the current discussions, the sources said that for the first time they believe that Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban organization based in Pakistan, and its leader, Mohammad Omar.
"They are very, very serious about finding a way out," one source close to the talks said of the Taliban.
Although Omar's representatives have long publicly insisted that negotiations were impossible until all foreign troops withdraw, a position seemingly buoyed by the Taliban's resilience on the battlefield, sources said the Quetta Shura has begun to talk about a comprehensive agreement that would include participation of some Taliban figures in the government and the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops on an agreed timeline.
The leadership knows "that they are going to be sidelined," the source said. "They know that more radical elements are being promoted within their rank and file outside their control. . . . All these things are making them absolutely sure that, regardless of [their success in] the war, they are not in a winning position."
The talks are very preliminary and the odds are they won't get anywhere. Karzai has demonstrated a stubbornness about holding on to as much power as possible and including some Taliban in his government who only recently were trying to oust him may be beyond his ability to grant.
But this is the answer to Obama's prayer; a peace deal that would allow him to pull out. Of course, once NATO and American troops are gone, there is no guarantee that the Taliban won't resume the offensive - this time against poorly trained and equipped Afghan government troops. The result would be predictable and very bad for America.