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Why the Taliban wants to enter politics

June 19th, 2013
07:11 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The Taliban has long been known as an extremist group, but could it become a player in workaday politics?

The group said it hoped to do just that when it opened a political office in the capital of Qatar, Doha. So why come in from the cold?

“Their decision making is kind of mysterious,” Marc Grossman, former U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

But he did have two leading theories. 

One, the Taliban realizes that the international community is, in Grossman’s words, “committed” to Afghanistan post-2014, when Western troops are scheduled to pull out of the country.

“I think they look at their world and they say, ‘Well, we could wait and do nothing, but maybe it’s time to get back in this.’”

Second, Grossman hypothesized, the Pakistanis may have put pressure on the Taliban to enter into talks.

“More and more Pakistanis,” Grossman said, “understand that chaos in Afghanistan is bad for them, and I think they sent a message to the Taliban saying, ‘now’s the time.’”

That’s not to say that talks will be smooth sailing. After all, negotiations would involve parties that have been trying to kill each other for more than a decade – and often much longer.

Just a day after the Taliban opened their office in Doha, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he was pulling out of the talks. At issue was the name that the Taliban gave their new office – a name that seemed to suggest that there may be more than one true Afghanistan.

“There was a deal that had been done – they weren’t supposed to call this office “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” and when they did, people called them on it,” Grossman said. “The Taliban realized they’d overstepped their bounds.”

The road to negotiations will be long and bumpy, Grossman told Amanpour, but we’re in the very early days.

“The most important thing about this office,” he said, “is to try to get Afghans talking to other Afghans about the future of Afghanistan.”

Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Zamroni

    Why they want to enter the politics? Because they were. They politically ruled Afghanistan before US forces came in 2011.

    June 20, 2013 at 12:29 am | Reply
    • Johnny

      My good friend, the US Republicans (read Reagan and company) sided with them before 2011.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:58 am | Reply
  2. Francis mwanzia

    This people called taliban are just doing nothing doing what is too late becouse people are going to the latest techinolog and every one whant to see new but talibans are living in the year 1901. What they are doing, is that they provide oher people with big wepons to test wepons and get fighting place. Sometime too old wepons thron there. I hope one day they will see all this. They dont take girs to school and no better education in this computerized word .

    June 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  3. Samuel M. Phiri

    For the sake of peace and development in Afganstan it is important for all parties including western countries to be part of these meetings. It's equally important for human rights organisation to be involved for the sake of women.

    June 21, 2013 at 1:58 am | Reply
  4. Ben

    What make afghan leaders think they speak for the majority , I say sheer greed !

    June 23, 2013 at 11:01 am | Reply
  5. Johnny

    Hell, the American Republicans sided with them in the 1980s and 1990s. So why shouldn't they enter politics today?

    June 24, 2013 at 4:56 am | Reply
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