Fugitive Afghan rebel leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar told The Associated Press that his forces have ended cooperation with the Taliban and suggested that he was open to talks with embattled President Hamid Karzai.There's a good reason that this guy has survived in one of the most inhospitable regions on the planet. He apparently has the knack to know which side has the most power at any given moment in a fluid and changing Afghan political landscape.
In a video response to questions submitted by AP, Hekmatyar said that his group contacted Taliban leaders in 2003 and agreed to wage a joint jihad, or holy war, against American troops.
"The jihad went into high gear but later it gradually went down as certain elements among the Taliban rejected the idea of a joint struggle against the aggressor," Hekmatyar said in the video, which was received Thursday. Hekmatyar wore glasses and a black turban as he spoke in front of a plain white wall at an undisclosed location.
This may be his attempt to secure his survival for just a bit longer considering the world of hurt the NATO and US forces are busy inflicting on the Taliban in advance of their annual spring offensive.
Considering that quite a few Taliban leaders have been rolled up in recent weeks, he would have nothing to gain by siding with the group as their reputation and leadership goes down the drain. This doesn't mean that he's changed his stripes. Indeed, the US still considers him a terrorist on their watch list and have tried to eliminate him on several occasions.
That there are even reports of US forces operating in Warizistan (inside Pakistan) going after Taliban and al Qaeda are probably giving Hekmatyar second thoughts about the survivability of the Taliban. He's probably looking for the best deal to bide his time until he can strike out on his own.