Hamid Karzai came out in favor of such a proposal this past December, and Pakistan has expressed its approval in the report below. This sets the stage for the Taliban to follow the model of Hamas and Hizballah, and to seek legitimacy under the guise of allegedly compartmentalized operations.
It also increases the likelihood of fools’ errands of “engagement” (so often a euphemism for doing business with thugs) by willing dupes in the West who hope that by dealing with the side of the group they like — “just” the political wing, they suppose — they can bolster it enough to split it off from the one they don’t, rather than disastrously lending support and credibility to the whole enterprise.
And in this case, the Taliban would have a forward operating base on Europe’s doorstep, so much the worse if Turkey is admitted to the EU. “‘Turkey in talks to open Taliban office in Istanbul’,” from Reuters, April 15:
ANKARA – Turkey is working to open a political office for the Taliban in Istanbul, a close aide to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Friday, the first explicit comments on the plan.
“It’s being negotiated right now,” Ibrahim Kalin told the Hurriyet daily, adding the office would be located in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul.
Turkey, which has hosted talks aimed at building trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan, has said before that it is open to the establishment of a diplomatic presence for the Taliban to help with talks to end the war in Afghanistan.
A Pakistani official, speaking during a visit by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to Ankara on Thursday, told Reuters Pakistan would back such a plan.
Analysts say that any solution to the Afghan conflict would probably require the support of Pakistan.
The proposal first surfaced during a trilateral summit in December between Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan in Istanbul, in which Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Kabul would welcome any offer by Turkey meant to facilitate talks with the Taliban.
Afghanistan’s former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, who leads a council charged with starting peace talks with Taliban-led insurgents, held talks with Turkish government officials in Turkey in February.
But Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister who came second behind Hamid Karzai in Afghan presidential elections in 2009, told Hurriyet that opening an office for the Taliban would help “legalize a terrorist organization”.…