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More Bogus Taliban Talks

12:28 PM, Mar 19, 2009 • By BILL ROGGIO
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The news outlets just can't seem to stop falling for the stories about high-level negotiations with the Taliban. Last fall's reports of talks in Saudi Arabia turned out to be false, just as reports of a split between the Taliban and al Qaeda. Another report last week also claimed Mullah Omar sanctioned high-level talks with the Afghan government, but this also turned out to be incorrect. All of these stories have a common thread: Former members of the Taliban who have been expelled by the group are pushing the idea of talks.

Today, we get another report of so-called high level talks. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Afghan government has reached out to the radical, al Qaeda allied Haqqani Network. The Haqqanis have a fanatical devotion to the Wahhabism espoused by Sheikh Issa al Masri in Pakistan's tribal areas. The Haqqanis have foreign fighters in its network and operate suicide training camps as well as carry out suicide attacks against Coalition forces and Afghans alike.

Like past "negotiations" one needs to look at the players involved. No member of the Haqqani network is identified as negotiating with the government, which automatically makes this report suspicious. The CSM tells us that Maulavi Arsala Rahmani, an Afghan senator "and a member of the mediating team" is involved. Rahmani is bullish on the talks and wants the United States to end raids against the Haqqani network in exchange for the Haqqanis' ending attacks on schools and reconstruction teams as a a confidence building measure.

But you don't need to look too far into the past to know that Maulavi Arsala Rahmani was involved in Taliban negotiations that weren't really Taliban negotiations. The Christian Science Monitor told us that last fall's negotiations in Saudi Arabia were a sham, and Rahmani was part of it:

None of the attendees currently belongs to the Taliban, according to one former Taliban official who attended the meetings. Some of the attendees - such as Maulavi Arsala Rahmani, a former deputy minister and currently senator - didn't wield much influence in the former Taliban government. Others, such as former Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil, have since fallen out of favor with the leadership. On the Afghan side, attendees included parliamentarian Arif Noorzai and National Security Adviser Zalmay Rasul.

Rahmani and other Taliban washups and wannabes have been promoting talks without delivering anything tangible for years. Why should we believe them now? And why didn't the CSM catch Rahmani's involvement in prior failed talks, particularly when they reported it just six month ago?