After 17 Years of War⚔, Taliban Field Commanders Signal Openness to Peace Talks

Faced with a resurgent ISIS threat and emboldened by recent gains on the battlefield, two senior Taliban field commanders suggested they are open to peace talks with the Afghan government after 17 years of war. The highly unusual conciliatory words come as Pentagon officials and new US leadership in Afghanistan also focus on seeking peace with the Taliban, switching their military efforts to destroying ISIS' Afghan franchise, the so-called Islamic State in Khorasan (ISIS-K).

ISIS-K is seen as the most dangerous potential threat to US and other Western security evolving in Afghanistan. US defence department officials said that while the Taliban continued to be a source of instability, it was unlikely to pose any kind of international danger. "It's ISIS and al Qaeda we should be going after," said one US officer, who did not want to be named.

There is a strong view in the US' defence and intelligence departments that its forces should not pull out of Afghanistan until the threat from ISIS has been eliminated -- and a fear that the entire Afghan operation, involving about 15,000 US troops and costing an estimated $45 billion this year, risked being shut down on a whim by the Trump administration.

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