Reuters is out with a report that Mullah Omar, the reclusive leader of the Taliban suspected of hiding in Pakistan, wrote the White House a letter last year demanding the transfer of militant prisoners. That'd be surprising given how aloof he is even as a figurehead for the Taliban resistance. The debate over whether to release those prisoners is, of course, central to the U.S.'s strategy to bringing the conflict in Afghanistan to an end. The hope is that by transferring prisoners the U.S. will show enough "good faith" to get the Taliban to the negotiation table.
The White House apparently debated whether or not the letter was even real. Mullah Omar is notoriously hard to trace, occasionally reported to be dead. The A.P notes the potential significance of the letter, writing, "A direct message from Omar could be a strong signal that the Taliban movement is interested in negotiation at the highest levels," That would be pretty friendly of him, given what Steve Coll in a timely New Yorker profile last week, wondered, "Will the United States be able to negotiate with a man it has hunted for a decade?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.