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Monday, October 06, 2008


Following up on my piece from last Saturday regarding the West beginning to concede that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, commander of British forces in Afghanistan, has been quoted in the UK ‘Guardian’ newspaper as having said on Sunday (5 October) confirming that, indeed, the war cannot be won and that, furthermore, the only way out is to initiate talks with the Taliban.

It seems the commander was speaking with some authority from the British government. The Ministry of Defence agreed that they had no problem with warning the UK people not to expect a decisive victory and they may have to settle for a deal with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the US, rather than considering talks (but not ruling them out entirely), are, instead, toying with the idea of sending more troops to Afghanistan indicating that the two, until now, staunch allies were drifting apart on Afghan policy.

The Afghan US-sponsored puppet president, Hamid Karzai, has also been thinking along the lines of talks with the Taliban. Karzai is reported to have approached the Saudi government to broker such peace talks. Even the US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, while on the one hand has asked for some 10,000 more troops, has, in apparent contradiction to US policy, proposed talks stating that the war needs to be dealt with diplomatically.

The warmongering neocons, quite predictably, are not happy with the new developments. When asked recently how the war against the Taliban could be won Karl Rove answered: “More Predators and helicopters!”


Andrew B. Noselli said...

I am interested in what to make of the following story:

Sources: Taliban split with al Qaeda, seek peace

Taliban leaders are holding Saudi-brokered talks with the Afghan government to end the country's bloody conflict -- and are severing their ties with al Qaeda, sources close to the historic discussions have told CNN.

King Abdullah of Saudia Arabia hosted meetings between the Afghan government and the Taliban, a source says.

The militia, which has been intensifying its attacks on the U.S.-led coalition that toppled it from power in 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, has been involved four days of talks hosted by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, says the source.

The talks -- the first of their kind aimed at resolving the lengthy conflict in Afghanistan -- mark a significant move by the Saudi leadership to take a direct role in Afghanistan, hosting delegates who have until recently been their enemies.

They also mark a sidestepping of key "war on terror" ally Pakistan, frequently accused of not doing enough to tackle militants sheltering on its territory, which has previously been a conduit for talks between the Saudis and Afghanistan.

According to the source, fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar -- high on the U.S. military's most-wanted list -- was not present, but his representatives were keen to stress the reclusive cleric is no longer allied to al Qaeda.

Details of the Taliban leader's split with al Qaeda have never been made public before, but the new claims confirm what another source with an intimate knowledge of the militia and Mullah Omar has told CNN in the past.

The current round of talks, said to have been taken two years of intense behind-the-scenes negotiations to come to fruition, is anticipated to be the first step in a long process to secure a negotiated end to the conflict.

But U.S.- and Europe-friendly Saudi Arabia's involvement has been propelled by a mounting death toll among coalition troops amid a worsening violence that has also claimed many civilian casualties.

A Saudi source familiar with the talks confirmed that they happened and said the Saudis take seriously their role in facilitating discussions between parties to the conflict.

A second round of talks is scheduled to take place in two months, the Saudi source said.
The Afghan government believes the Taliban cannot be defeated militarily, and the Taliban believe that they can't win a war against the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, the Saudi source said.

The involvement of the Saudis is also seen as an expression of fear that Iran could take advantage of U.S. failings in Afghanistan, as it is seen to be doing in Iraq.

Several Afghan sources familiar with Iranian activities in Afghanistan have said Iranian officials and diplomats who are investing in business and building education facilities are lobbying politicians in Kabul.

The Afghan sources wish to remain anonymous due to their political roles.

Coalition commanders regularly accuse Iran of arming the Taliban, and Western diplomats privately suggest that Iran is working against U.S. interests in Afghanistan, making it harder to bring peace.

Saudi sources say perceived Iranian expansionism is one of Saudi Arabia's biggest concerns.

The talks in Mecca took place between September 24 and 27 and involved 11 Taliban delegates, two Afghan government officials, a representative of former mujahadeen commander and U.S. foe Gulbadin Hekmatyar, and three others.

King Abdullah broke fast during the Eid al-Fitr holiday with the 17-member Afghan delegation -- an act intended to show his commitment to ending the conflict. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

Saudi Arabia was one of only three countries that recognized the Taliban leadership during its rule over Afghanistan in the 1990s, but that relationship was severed over Mullah Omar's refusal to hand over bin Laden.

During the talks, described as an ice breaker, all parties agreed that the only solution to Afghanistan's conflict is through dialogue, not fighting.

Further talks are expected in Saudi Arabia involving this core group and others.''

by Nic Robertson,, October 6, 2008


Damian Lataan said...

Andrew, thanks for the article and your invitation to express my view. Rather than write my response here I have instead written a post that you’ll find here: