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More talk of Taliban talks



Mutawakil.jpg

Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil.

Two stories of US negotiations with the Taliban are sure to spark controversy as the Obama administration has yet to decide on the path forward in Afghanistan. The first report, from Dawn, is the more interesting of the two:

The Obama administration may be close to reversing course on its current strategy in Afghanistan, after DawnNews quoted sources as saying that high-level talks with senior Taliban militants are currently underway.

The indirect talks involve officials from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Britain, and top Afghan Taliban leadership, including the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Chief and Abdullah Anus, among others.

Sources told DawnNews that Anus is the son in law of Abdullah Azzam, a noted terrorist and former mentor of Osama bin Laden, who was killed along with his sons in Peshawar in 1989.

In addition, Abu Al Hasan Madani, one of the key leaders of Rabta-e-Alam-e-Islami, has also been engaged in the process, as has Abu Jud Mehmood Samrai, an Iraqi who also holds Pakistan nationality and who played a very important role in the Afghan war.

A senior US intelligence official told me that the negotiations are in fact taking place, but these are not "senior Taliban militants" as described by Dawn. The Taliban leaders are described as "the second string" by the official. Any decisions made by these leaders will not have a major impact on the Taliban insurgency. The official also noted that Abu Jud Mehmood Samarai is closely linked to al Qaeda. This implies that the terror group is monitoring the talks.

The second report, from MEMRI, is less interesting as the US continues to try to talk to the same Taliban poseurs.

An Afghan source in Kabul reports that U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry is holding secret talks with Taliban elements headed by the movement's foreign minister, Ahmad Mutawakil, at a secret location in Kabul. According to the source, the U.S. has offered the Taliban control of the Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, Kunar and Nuristan provinces in return for a halt to the Taliban missile attacks on U.S. bases.

As I noted last year when the talks with Mutawakil and company in Saudi Arabia were all the rage, these talks are destined to go nowhere. Mutawakil, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, and Mullah Mohamed Tayeb Agha are looked upon by the Taliban leaders with disdain after they surrendered to the US early in the war. The Taliban do not consider them members and in fact openly mock them. And even if the US agreed to such a ridiculous deal and ceded territory to the Taliban, there is no way Mutawakil could deliver and halt attacks.



READER COMMENTS: "More talk of Taliban talks"

Posted by jayc at November 23, 2009 7:40 PM ET:

I hope his name is pronounced "ah - noose," and not the other way around. it reminds me of the cubans i used to work with who would always laugh at president roosevelt's name. fdr's middle name was "delano," which to the latin speakers meant:
del=from the, and ano=ass.

Posted by Mat at November 23, 2009 9:06 PM ET:

Bill,

I think you're missing the point. Ridiculous or not, what this says to the Taliban in general is that we're looking for a way out. This is simply going to embolden them to redouble their efforts (which in my opinion will eventually be successful unless we drastically change our ideas regarding this war) to drive us out. Talk about horrible timing...

It enables the current administration (I'll try to keep this as "apolitical" as possible) to save face by "dealing" with elements of the Taliban (real or imagined) so that they can eventually leave.

All the talk in the political sphere seems to indicate that we will leave within a couple of years (if the news over the past week or so is correct). And how do you think that will impact the war?

Posted by Bill Roggio at November 23, 2009 9:18 PM ET:

Hi Mat,

Its a point I've made several times, just this time. I don't disagree one bit. The president said we'd be exiting Afghanistan by the end of his term, message sent and received. We have the watches, they have the time. Now they have the exact time.

Posted by Bing at November 24, 2009 1:23 AM ET:

Unbelievable. I realize that in the intel business you have to talk to bad people at times, but it seems like we're talking to the enemy right now!

Posted by Ahmad Tariq at November 24, 2009 1:27 AM ET:

It is my sincere advice that the U.S. decrease its presence in Afghanistan gradually and use Afghan forces to deal with miscreants. Posting billions of dollars in Afghanistan is of no use and a mere expense going nowhere, due to the heavy corruption of President Karzai.

Eventually the U.S., if for not other reasons, probably due to public pressure will have to leave Afghanistan. And its my guess that the bombings in Afghanistan and Pakistan will lessen once the U.S. leaves the region (more so because the U.S. is seen as an invader by Afghans in their country).

Posted by TomEgatherion at November 24, 2009 11:39 AM ET:

*raises eyebrows*

Took some literary license there with Abdullah Azzam's son in law's name, eh? Didn't figure that anyone would read the link? Hey, "you say 'Anus', I say 'Anas'".

Don't sweat it, I'd have done the same thing...and I got a great mid-morning chuckle out of it.

-Tom

Posted by Bill Roggio at November 24, 2009 1:44 PM ET:

Tom,

I didn't take any liberties with the name, I honestly don't have the time for such nonsense. I cut and paste the text as is, from the original Dawn article. The text of course has since changed and the name has been updated (Dawn often does this, radically updates articles on the fly as new information arises, which is why I blockquoted the text)... Had I corrected the original text, then I would have taken liberties.

Posted by Duane in Houston at November 24, 2009 5:40 PM ET:

I can see the writing on the wall as plain as day. This is going to be Viet Nam 2. The decision has already been made to "bug out" by the the end of this president's first term. He'll go on TV and tell us he's going to do a mini-surge, negotiate with the Taliban, pursue Al Queda and train the Afghan army so that we can leave and have "peace with honor" or "withdrawel with dignity" or some such catchy phrase. Then we'll "bug out" and shortly there-after cut off all financial support and supply to the Afghan army so that they dissintegrate while the Taliban quickly re-takes the whole country lopping off the heads of all who opposed them just like in Viet Nam. This will be quickly followed by the fall of Pakistan to the radicals leaving India to have to clean up the whole stinking mess. A Marvelous plan I must say. I love the smell of mushroom clouds in the morning.....it smells like...victory.