By Gareth Porter, Consortium News, June 1, 2011
Leaked reports over the past two weeks of a series of meetings between U.S. officials and a Taliban figure close to leader Mullah Omar seemed to point to real progress toward a negotiated settlement of the war in Afghanistan.
But the talks are actually part of the Obama administration’s strategy to put pressure on the Taliban leadership, in part, by dividing it from Pakistan as well as an effort to bolster President Barack Obama’s domestic support for the war.
Senior administration officials hope to use the talks to sow suspicion between the Taliban and their main ally, thus weakening the Taliban demand that a peace settlement must include a timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal.
Afghan and German officials have said U.S. officials met three times in Qatar and Germany in recent months with Tayyeb Agha, an aide of the top Taliban leader Mullah Omar, according to reports in the Washington Post and Der Spiegel.