The Afghan government is again negotiating
piecemeal peace deals with the Taliban. This could do more damage to the
Islamic radicals than all those smart bombs. The Taliban took a
terrible beating during this years campaigning season (Spring and
Summer). As the seasons change, the gunmen go look for a warm place to
spend the Winter, while the tribal elders get together with
government officials, to negotiate next years war.
The government has already turned some tribes away from the
Taliban, and this has caused some friction between Taliban leaders. It's
all carrot and stick, with the government providing carrots (bribes and
reconstruction projects), and the Taliban provides the stick (terrorism
against the government and tribes that won't support the Taliban). In the
middle of all this are the drug lords. Some tribes have gone into the
heroin business big time, and will make deals with government officials
or the Taliban, in order to protect their business.
The government also has a stick in the form of foreign (NATO
and U.S.) troops, who go after the Taliban, with great success.
Tribal and Taliban efforts to use civilian casualties (real and imagined)
to force the foreign troops to leave (because of political pressure
back home) have not worked. This puts the tribal elders in a mood to
make deals with the government. NATO air power and the damn smart
bombs have changed everything. The UAVs and warplane targeting pods can
see what is happening in the most remote parts of the country, day
or night and in any weather. The Taliban often use civilians as
human shields against the NATO fire power, but the foreign troops
don't always cooperate.
The negotiations can go in many directions, and will. Some
of the "peace" deals are not popular with the foreigners, as they
involve leaving the drug gangs alone, and seeing more heroin heading for
the West. But most Afghans are not happy with all that heroin and
opium. Not all of it gets exported. What with all the guns and
unemployed young men, adding drugs makes life even worse. Other deals
involve bringing senior Taliban into the government. This
aggravates foreigners, but there are already several Taliban like
(Islamic conservative) men in the government. Afghans are used to this
sort of thing, but it takes foreigners a while to get used to it.