It comes to our attention that the MEMRI Blog highlights an article from the Saudi _al-Watan_ in Arabic that - according to an Afghan source - the United States is talking to the Taliban seeking to trade control of 5 provinces in exchange for the cessation of attacks on US bases. MEMRI summarizes:
An Afghan source in Kabul reports that U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry is holding secret talks with Taliban elements headed by the movement's foreign minister, Ahmad Mutawakil, at a secret location in Kabul. According to the source, the U.S. has offered the Taliban control of the Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, Kunar and Nuristan provinces in return for a halt to the Taliban missile attacks on U.S. bases.
Kunar province borders the Khyber Pass region where the majority of US and NATO supplies pass enroute from Pakistan. And the4 remaining four provinces constitute fully the southern 25% of Afghanistan's territory.
This, if true, is a disturbing development.
No bleeping kidding; 'disturbing' is an understatement.
Update: this is at ThreatsWatch today:
The US embassy in Kabul has responded to the ThreatsWatch post yesterday highlighting a report in the Saudi al Watan newspaper saying Ambassador Eikenberry was in secret talks with the Taliban and offering territory in exchange for a cessation of rocket attacks on US bases. (See: Whispers of Surrender in Afghanistan?)
Early Tuesday morning, US Embassy spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden denied the veracity of the Sunday Saudi report.
"There is no truth to reports that the U.S. Embassy is engaging in secret talks with elements of the Taliban. Our position on the inclusion of Taliban and other fighters into Afghan society remains unchanged: we support the efforts of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghan to reintegrate fighters and other disaffected individuals into society, under the Afghan constitution. This process must be Afghan-led."
We take the US embassy in Kabul at its word. The Tuesday morning denial is the first we have seen in response to the anonymously Afghan-sourced al-Watan report.
I damn well hope this is the truth.