Talks With Which 'Taliban'?
Some 'western' military chiefs urged talks with Taliban to find a political solution to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now everyone seems to have agreed to the plan:
The announcement that contacts would be sought with the Taliban came at the close of a two-day gathering of elders and prominent figures from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"We agreed that contacts should be established with the opposition on both sides," said former Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who led his country's delegation to the meeting in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
These plans have the support from the U.S. government. But now comes the big question. Who are the Taliban?
The recent talks the Afghan government held in Saudi Arabia were with former Taliban officials who are no longer involved in fighting and with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a longtime competitor of the original Taliban.
In Pakistan a group named Tehreek-e-Taleban led by Baitullah Mehsud is fighting against the Pakistani government in north-west Pakistan. (Some Pakistanis allege the group has Indian and U.S. support.)
In Afghanistan there are many groups, all labeled Taliban by the 'western' media, fighting against the foreigners and the government. Some of them have bases in Pakistan others do not.
U.S. drones have several times attacked Jalaluddin Haqqani's houses in west Pakistan. His clan and organization fight on both sides of the Durand line and were on and off allies of the old Taliban. As a former mujaheddin Haqqani enjoyed U.S. support as an anti-Soviet fighter.
The Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is anti-Taliban but famous for switching sides on a moments notice.
The original Taliban are said to be led by Mullah Omar and headquartered in Quetta in Pakistan's south western Balochistan province. There are also several neo-Taliban groups solely based in Afghanistan.
Added to the mix are various types of 'foreigners' which the 'west' all labels al-Qaeda. Some are Arab fighters who fought against the Soviets and later settled in Pashtun areas on both sides of the border. Others are fresh recruits from the Gulf, a few Uighurs from west China and some veterans from the Chechnyen wars.
So while talking with the Taliban is now the new rage, who will these talks actually be with?
As there is no leader of all these 'Taliban'. There is no single person or group to talk with. There is also no real offer. The U.S. seems to be determined to stay in Afghanistan but the most important request from all the separate groups is a retreat of the foreign forces.
The U.S. may try to bribe this or that leader to temporarily switch sides. But I doubt that an Anbar province like full sized bribery will work in Afghanistan.
Some of the above are likely making more from the drug trade than the U.S. will be willing to offer. The Canadian military is paying local Afghans $300-500 a month to guard Canadian soldiers in their camps. The various Taliban are said to offer $300 a month to their fighters, while the Afghan army seeks recruits but pays only a slim $135. Imagine only what effects competitive incentives for turncoat 'Taliban' will have on the creation of a competent Afghan army.
The plans to now negotiate with the 'terrorists' are therefore likely to end nowhere unless the 'west' is willing to retreat.
Posted by b on October 29, 2008 at 09:28 AM | Permalink
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