Recent pronouncements by the Taliban have raised the possibility that the insurgents may be softening their stance on what a future without U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan might look like.
At informal talks last week in France with Afghan government officials and members of the political opposition, Taliban representatives said the militant group wasn’t looking to monopolize power and would be willing to govern with other factions. They also promised to grant rights to women and ethnic minorities, which they have violently repressed.
But there is reason for caution. According to some local and Western accounts, the group is riven by internal power struggles. Preliminary contacts between the United States and the Taliban’s political representatives in Qatar met with a backlash from the group’s military commanders that helped scuttle that initiative.
The Taliban cut off contacts with the United States in March. President Hamid Karzai’s own efforts at establishing a channel with the Taliban have also foundered.