Taliban ready to sue for peace?

Well, not quite. But, large elements of the Taliban are beginning to consider it:

President Hamid Karzai’s office said Sunday that there is “serious debate” among some Taliban fighters about laying down arms, while a spokesman for the militants said they will “never” negotiate with Afghan authorities until foreign troops leave.

Clashes and airstrikes, meanwhile, killed 16 people, capping a week that saw more than 270 people die in insurgency-related violence.

Karzai said Saturday he would be willing to meet personally with Taliban leader Mullah Omar and give militants a position in government in exchange for peace. Karzai spokesman Humayun Hamidzada on Sunday stressed that the militants would have to accept Afghanistan’s constitution.

But Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi repeated a position he announced earlier this month, saying there would be no negotiations until U.S. and NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

Of course, he’d deny it. One of the last things you want to do is let your enemy know your will to continue the fight is breaking. (A lesson the Copperheads Democrats and the Geldings Republican “wets” should learn.) But Afghan and NATO intelligence have picked up signs of a serious rift in the Taliban, with some advocating cutting a deal.

It’s not hard to imagine why, considering their lack of progress and the casualties they’ve been taking. Their vaunted “spring offensive” this year was preempted by a NATO-Afghan offensive, several of their top-ranking commanders have been killed, and they’ve had to resort to terrorist tactics out of desperation.

There’s almost certainly a hard-core that will fight on to the bitter end, but, if significant numbers can be shaved away through a reconciliation deal, it may reduce to Taliban threat to that of a nuisance, thus giving long-suffering Afghans the chance to rebuild they deserve.

(hat tip: Blue Crab Boulevard)

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