For first time since 2001, Taliban feels political power within its grasp again

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Toronto/Kabul, Oct. 22 (ANI): Bolstered by summer success on the battlefield, the Taliban, for the first time since they were ousted from power by U.S.-led forces in October 2001, believes that Kabul is once again within their grasp.

"The Taliban are obsessed by the state. But they are not revolutionary in the international sense. They don't want to take control of the whole world, just Kabul," said Gilles Dorronsoro, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and renowned expert on Afghanistan.

Taliban leaders believe they failed to effectively rule Afghanistan in the nineties because the international community refused to recognize them, isolating them politically and staving off economic aid.

This latest olive branch extended by incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai, represents a golden opportunity to seize some degree of power with legitimacy, analysts say.

The Globe and Mail quoted Stephen Saideman, a professor of political science at McGill University, as saying: "They may see themselves at a point in time where they have an advantage but maybe won't in six months. They are seeing an opportunity now that they may not have again."

The discussions are also presumably supported by Pakistan, whose security services have a complex and often fractious relationship with the Taliban.

The discussions themselves are primarily a trust-building exercise, ostensibly to lay the groundwork for real negotiations down the road. (ANI)

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