Breaking the Ice

U.S. Talks to Al Qaeda-Tied Clan

The U.S. is secretly and indirectly talking to the Haqqani network, a ruthless insurgent group in Afghanistan, through the government of President Hamid Karzai. The Haqqani network is the militant group most closely tied to al Qaeda, but officials in Kabul and Washington now accept that working with the network is the only way to make peace in Afghanistan stick. The group is even more powerful than the 15 Taliban leaders of the Quetta Shura, a council lead by Mullah Omar. The contacts—labeled very tentative—have been going on more than a year. CIA chief Leon Panetta said this summer that the Haqqani network had little interest in reconciliation, but The Guardian has confirmed the contacts with the U.S. Sirajuddin Haqqani, who succeeded his father in leading the group, “realizes he could be a nobody if he doesn't enter the process,” a diplomat said.