New Taliban Negotiator Seen as Sign That This Time, Afghan Peace Talks Are Serious by Mujib Mashal – New York Times
As the United States has shifted from trying to defeat the Taliban militarily to seeking a negotiated end to the long Afghan war, American diplomats and Afghan officials alike have grappled with a basic question: Just who speaks on behalf of the Taliban, and with how much authority?
That question seemed to be answered on Thursday when the Taliban announced that one of their founding leaders, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, would serve as the new chief negotiator in high-level talks that have reached a critical stage. The appointment brought much-needed clarity and indicated that the Taliban are taking negotiations seriously, according to Western diplomats and Afghan officials.
Mullah Baradar is known as a longtime, powerful lieutenant to the Taliban’s founding supreme leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar. The following that Mullah Baradar commands among the Taliban’s rank and file could help make a deal negotiated by him more acceptable, officials said…