Russia has been courting the Taliban at least since 2014 with money and weapons, ostensibly to fight ISIS, certainly to undermine the American effort in Afghanistan.
Sami Yousafzai is The Daily Beast's correspondent in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he has covered militancy, al Qaeda, and the Taliban for Newsweek magazine and The Daily Beast since 9/11. He was born in Afghanistan but moved to Pakistan with his family after the Russian invasion in 1979. He began his career as a sports journalist but switched to war reporting in 1997.
Do the Taliban really want peace? The answer may well be yes, but probably not as much as the Americans want out.
Both sides are edging toward a serious dialogue. Their visions are far apart—but both know that ISIS is waging its own war of terror in Afghanistan, and it threatens everyone.
This week alone, the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and the offices of Save the Children in Jalalabad came under fire. Dozens died, including Americans.
A former Afghan member of ISIS and a Taliban commander say claims of credit for such an atrocity are almost irrelevant, as long as the U.S.-backed regime is discredited.