PAKTIKA, Afghanistan — The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan has an unusual new strategy for defeating the Taliban in one key eastern town: join them.
In Marzak, a Kharoti-tribe village of just a few thousand people in northern Paktika province, the U.S. Army’s 172nd Infantry Brigade, along with attached Afghan army and police, is laying the groundwork for a close alliance with native-born Taliban who have grown tired of the abuses of neighboring tribes and foreign Taliban.
The implications for the decade-long war are enormous. The Marzak alliance is helping hone the coalition’s definition of “enemy” in Afghanistan, and pointing the way towards a realistic framework for a lasting peace. Afghans affiliated with the Taliban are widely known to be less extreme and violent than their foreign compatriots.