Aljazeera English reports the Taliban have rejected President Obama’s plans for Afghanistan, but that President Hamid Karzai welcomed steps that would return the country to Afghan rule.
Still, this report says that Mullah Omar himself has given his blessing to US-Taliban direct talks. Hard to know which one is right (both are unlikely to be). It will be consequential.
Aljazeera also reports on preparations by the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) to take up the security burden as American and NATO forces depart. Astonishingly after all these years of training and equipping the ANA, NATO appears not to have provided them with heavy weaponry or training on it. No wonder the ANA has its problems, if it is just fighting with light arms (i.e. it is no better than the popular militias of Misrata in Libya). There are other problems, too. 86% of the army is illiterate, military training is short and perfunctory, and there is a severe shortage of officers and non-commissioned officers, according to even the mostly supportive Long War Journal. It does not mention widespread problems of substance abuse, or the really key question. Who will be willing to risk their lives for the Karzai government?