The latest strain on the tenuous US-Afghanistan relationship: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been secretly negotiating with the Taliban. With no Western involvement, Karzai has been trying to hash out a peace agreement, which, officials say, explains a lot of his recent inexplicable and vexing actions (see: refusing to sign a security deal with the US and freeing dozens of dangerous Taliban detainees). But, sources tell the New York Times, the talks haven't come to much—there's not even the beginning of an agreement, and it's not clear the Taliban was ever serious in the first place.
The Taliban reportedly reached out to Karzai in November, right around the time his relationship with his allies started going downhill, and a number of messages have been exchanged since. The lack of progress, however, has many officials thinking the Taliban's main purpose was to mess with the US-Afghan security deal, and some officials say the communication has died down and any hope for a peace deal is dead. But a Karzai spokesman says the contact with the Taliban continues and has been "very positive." A Taliban spokesperson tells Bloomberg the Taliban has not reached out to Karzai, but praises Karzai for refusing to sign the deal with the US and says if he continues to refuse, "it will create positive relations with him." (Read more Hamid Karzai stories.)