A Taliban Leader, Eyeing U.S. Peace Deal, Speaks to Afghans’ Fears by Mujib Mashal – New York Times
DOHA, Qatar — In a sign that the Taliban see a peace deal with the United States as imminent, one of their top leaders released a rare audio message on Thursday seeking to ease the concerns of the insurgency’s own fighters — and those of Afghans who fear that an agreement could let the Taliban return to power and roll back human rights.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a deputy Taliban leader who was recently freed from a Pakistani cell to lead the talks with the Americans in Qatar, said in the message that he was “very hopeful” that the discussions that ended Tuesday could help end a war that has dragged on for 18 years.
“We had the kind of talks that have created the opportunity to resolve things and find a solution in the future,” Mullah Baradar said.
His message was a window into the internal politics of the Taliban, who are stuck in a deadly stalemate with the Afghan security forces, despite essentially controlling more Afghan territory than at any time since 2001, when the American invasion ousted them from political power…