General David Petraeus, the US commander in Afghanistan, who famously exploited rifts within Iraq’s Sunni insurgency to turn around a losing US-led war there, says a new policy on reintegration and reconciliation with the Taliban was “fairly imminent.”

Pointing to his experience in Iraq, the General who replaced Stanley McChrystal, added that he thought “there is a prospect for reconciliation with some of the groups.

“You know, ultimately we had to face the question in Iraq of, ‘Will we sit down across the table with people who have our blood on their hands?’” And the answer was yes,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean that (Taliban leader) Mullah Omar is about to stroll down main street in Kabul anytime soon and raise his hand and swear an oath on the constitution of Afghanistan,” Petraeus said in an interview.

But, he told NBC’s “Meet the Press,” there is “every possibility, I think, that there can be low- and mid-level reintegration and indeed some fracturing of the senior leadership that could be really defined as reconciliation.

Petraeus took command of U.S. forces in Kabul following the sacking of his predecessor General Stanley McChrystal.


He now has less than a year to show results in Afghanistan where what he described as a “Pashtun insurgency” operating from sanctuaries in Pakistan has exposed the weakness of the government in Kabul and the NATO-led force backing it.

Petraeus drew attention to vulnerabilities in the insurgency, noting it was “not some kind of monolithic Taliban enemy” but rather a syndicate of insurgent groups that are not subservient to each other.

These include the Afghan Taliban in the south, the Haqqani network in the east, the Hezb-e-Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Pakistani Taliban, and smaller numbers of Al-Qaeda and Uzbek fighters.

“What is interesting is that the Taliban leads from the rear, as we would say. The Taliban leads from Pakistan,” the general said. “And by the way, the rank and file is just catching on to this.”” We actually see discussions among them, chatter among them, conversation, wondering where their senior leaders are, and wondering why Mullah Omar hasn’t set foot back in Afghanistan or even been heard from now in months and months and months.””But the senior leaders don’t come in and share hardship and risk with their troopers on the ground, they send messages. They do it by cell phone, or what have you, and that is actually going to be a problem for them.”Citing the case of a pregnant woman who was flogged and then killed, Petraeus suggested the Taliban’s brutal treatment of civilians was also hurting it.

“What they have done is really quite egregious, particularly in the context of the religion and in the context of the normal codes of conduct.

”Petraeus acknowledged, however, the daunting obstacles facing the NATO-led mission — insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan, weak government in Kabul and an intimidated populace that will shift allegiances to survive.