Is the Taliban open to negotiations with the US?
The record is unclear — have we’ ever tried to negotiate with the Taliban? The 9-11 report and Saddam’s fruitless attempts to placate the US suggest that President Bush had decided to invade both nations, and his only concern was to erect a suitable scaffolding of lies to support the invasions.
Now things might be changing, as Stratfor reports in “Afghanistan: A Taliban Opening to the U.S., 11 November 2009 (free registration required):
Two recent statements suggest the Afghan Taliban movement is working hard to distinguish itself from al Qaeda and from the Pakistani Taliban, and that the Taliban could be ready to negotiate with the United States.
The statements Stratfor describes are these:
- Interview with Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil (ex-foreign minister of the Taliban), from “Negotiating with the Taliban“, CNN’s The Situation Room, 10 November 2009
- “Taliban deny links with Pakistan militants“, Press TV, 10 November 2009
Not much grist to either of them, but hopefully the US government will pursue even the smallest opening. But I doubt it.
These are also worth reading as examples of the messy reality that the mainstream media converts to simple narratives — or ignores when contrary to their narrative.
Update: also relevant is “Know Thy Enemy“, Barbara Elias (George Washington U), Foreign Affairs, 2 November 2009 — “Why the Taliban Cannot Be Flipped.” Summary:
Beyond the current debate about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan lie more fundamental questions of who the Taliban are, how they are organized, what they want, and whether they can be separated from al Qaeda.
(1) Interview with Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil (ex-foreign minister of the Taliban) through a translator, from “Negotiating with the Taliban“, CNN’s The Situation Room, 10 November 2009 — This doesn’t make much sense to me. Excerpt:
CHRIS LAWRENCE: A man who served years in a CIA prison is emerging as a potential deal maker — someone who can speak to the Taliban and American and European officials. Could the Taliban ever work with President Karzai’s government?
MULLAH WAKIL MUTAWAKIL: They think Karzai’s government is incompetent. They don’t call it an independent government and I don’t think they’ll work with Karzai — as far as I know — the Taliban.
LAWRENCE: The Afghan insurgency comprises multiple groups with different areas of influence — Mullah Omar in the south, the Hakani network in the southeast and east of Kabul, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He’s a brutal warlord once backed by the U.S. and is independent of both the Taliban and al Qaeda. Which group would you recommend talking with first?
MUTAWAKIL: Only reconciling with Hekmatyar will not solve the problem. If they do not negotiate with the representative of Mullah Omar, it will be useless.
LAWRENCE: Mutawakil says the Taliban realize they can’t turn back the clock to early 2001. Could they accept a government where women are granted rights, women can — are allowed to go to school?
MUTAWAKIL: They will won’t believe in co- education, but there can be separate education while wearing veils. This will be different.
LAWRENCE: He says the current Taliban leadership is more focused on driving out foreigners than Islamic crusade, but admits a lot of young Afghan fighters have been influenced by years of contact with the foreign jihadists.
MUTAWAKIL: The new generation of Taliban, the young boys who joined with them, they are different.
(2) “Taliban deny links with Pakistan militants“, Press TV, 10 November 2009 — Probable source for the Stratfor report. Press TV is the first Iranian international news network, broadcasting in English 24/7. It is run by the Iranian government, founded in 2007. Stratfor says that Abdul Manan is an alias for Mullah Toor Jan. Excerpt:
The Taliban have denied any links with the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban militants based in the lawless tribal belt in northwestern Pakistan.
“They have their own policies and agenda in Afghanistan and the TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) has no links with al-Qaeda,” Taliban’s top commander in Afghanistan Abdul Manan told a local TV channel. Afghan Taliban leaders have not crossed the border, they are not hiding in Pakistan, but they are targeting coalition and NATO forces from Afghanistan only, said the militant leader, also known as Mulla Toor jan.
“Our mission is to eradicate from Afghanistan the US and allied forces … who had invaded our homeland. We have no influence over Pakistani Taliban based in the tribal belt.”
Mulla Toor Jan went further to criticize the TTP’s bombings and terrorist activities for taking lives of ‘innocent people’, adding al-Qaeda fighters only targeted foreign occupiers in Afghanistan.
The commander also condemned US drone attacks in both Afghan and Pakistani territories, warning Washington “has to pay the price for the blood of innocent civilians.”
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Some posts about the war in Afghanistan:
- Why are we are fighting in Afghanistan?, 9 April 2008 — A debate with Joshua Foust.
- Stratfor: “The Strategic Debate Over Afghanistan”, 13 May 2009
- Real experts review a presentation about the War (look here, if you’re looking for well-written analysis!), 21 June 2009
- The Big Lie at work in Afghanistan – an open discussion, 23 June 2009
- “War without end”, a great article by George Wilson, 27 June 2009
- “Strategic Calculus and the Afghan War” by George Friedman of Stratfor, 17 July 2009
- Powerful insights about our war in Afghanistan, part 1, 18 July 2009
- We are warned about Afghanistan, but choose not to listen (part 2), 19 July 2009
- Powerful insights about our war in Afghanistan, part 3, 20 July 2009
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