In a recent statement that addressed comments by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Taliban reiterated that it considers itself the sole representative of the Afghan people. This is at odds with the opinion of some analysts who advise the US government on policy with respect to a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.
The Taliban statement, which is dated June 23 and published at Voice of Jihad, addressed Stoltenberg’s comments that “the way to achieve that [peace] is not to leave Afghanistan. The way to achieve that is to stay in Afghanistan”.
During the Taliban’s response – which reiterated that all foreign forces must leave before negotiations can begin, a consistent Taliban position for more than a decade – the group said it views itself as the only representative of the Afghan people.
“Taliban is not some group but is another name of the Afghan nation,” it said while addressing the issue of whether the group can be defeated militarily.
While this may be seen by some to be a trivial issue, it is important as some who advise the US government on negotiations insist that the Taliban is not seeking to reestablish the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the name of the Taliban’s government) and is willing to enter negotiations with the Afghan government. For instance:
The IEA is the current name of the Taliban. They want to reach an agreement under which foreign troops withdraw and Afghans “form a government consistent with the beliefs of our people.” Not “reestablish the Islamic Emirate.” In discussion they are clear on the distinction.
— Barnett R. Rubin (@BRRubin) May 27, 2018
Also “beliefs of our people” is different from “beliefs of the IEA” or “our beliefs.” It means the beliefs of the people of Afghanistan, who, of course, are far from unanimous.
— Barnett R. Rubin (@BRRubin) May 27, 2018
Whatever so-called Taliban figures may be saying in private – keep in mind the Taliban has consistently stated its representatives are not talking to US, NATO, and Afghan officials, and the US has been duped by Taliban impostors claiming to represent the group in the past – the Taliban has been very clear that it views itself as the only legitimate representative of the Afghan people. It has said so in the past.
The Taliban has also very publicly stated that it will not share power with an Afghan government that it views as an illegitimate puppet of the West. Note the Taliban said it won’t share power and “the Emirate” is “the true representative of our people” back in Jan. 2016 [emphasis added]:
The Islamic Emirate has not readily embraced this death and destruction for the sake of some silly ministerial posts or a share of the power. On the contrary they epitomize the nation’s hopes and aspirations for a just and peaceful government that will strive to build our beloved nation on the basis of Islamic law, social justice and national interests.
The people of Afghanistan readily sacrifice their sons to achieve this objective. And the Emirate – as the true representative of our people – will not end its peaceful and armed endeavors until we have achieved this hope of Afghanistan.
The US, NATO, and the Afghan government continue to be optimistic about the prospects for negotiations and peace with the Taliban and unilaterally extended their ceasefire, even as the Taliban relaunched its offensive after a three day pause. The Taliban continues to deny that it is in talks with Afghan government, and insists that all foreign troops must leave the country before any talks can begin. Additionally, the group refuses to denounce al Qaeda or any other foreign jihadist group that operate alongside it.
The US government cannot get Afghanistan right if it continues to fail to understand the Taliban and its goal, which is the reestablishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
[Also see, Analysis: A misbegotten ‘ceasefire’ in Afghanistan.]
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Barnett Rubin is by far, the most informed person I have ever heard speak on the subject of Afghanistan. The only expert I saw on TV pre 9-11. He is one of the people who takes the position that America abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviets left, after Najibullah fell, during the time I believe, of President Mujahididi. I disagree with that view fundamentally but do not know the full details of his claim or the claims made by others about this view. I have all the respect in the world for his knowledge and love to hear him speak about Afghanistan, even when I disagree. Sounds like I disagree with him again. I posted here, if allowed, a Charlie Rose interview from about 6 months before 9-11. Watch it again for the first time. It was broadcast on Monday March 26, 2001 and featured Barnett Rubin and a special representative of the Taliban (who by the way, now lives in America). They agree and disagree-get into it a little. It holds up very well and is accurate to facts. At the 9 minute mark you can hear the passion he has for the region in his voice. Just after the ten minute mark he explains who the Taliban are and who controls them. Spoiler alert-ISI
As for negotiations, if the person you are negotiating with, demands preconditions- concessions from you just for entering negotiations, they have no real interest in negotiating for anything except your compliance to their other terms. You will learn those other terms at the “negotiations’ . Skip it.
To even attempt to negotiate with the Taliban, in light of their repetition of the same position they have always held, looks pathetic, shows weakness and a willingness to capitulate.
Mr Rubin believes in what Mitt Romney called a “civilian surge”. He wants the world to fix Afghanistan’s problems because the world can, thinks America should spend billions providing clean water, irrigation, solar power, education, the works. In Afghanistan, I think this leads to lots of opium and more military intervention.
Mr Rubin, while not siding with the Taliban in any way, thinks they were cheated out of an amnesty deal (by Rumsfeld) made when they surrendered 4 provinces to the (new provisional?) Afghan government (in 2002?). From what I understand I agree with him on that point. He must then take the position that the Taliban will negotiate, at the very least, with other Afghans.
In the twitter posts embedded in the article here, he seems to suggest that the Taliban will do what is wanted by the Afghan people. The Taliban came riding into town and didn’t give two sheets about what the Afghan people wanted. They claimed to have what the Afghan people needed and it was an iron age book. They make the same claim today about the book.
America needs to figure out what it wants to do in Afghanistan and get it done. Just do it.
^ Barnett doesnt understand anything. Afghan government is nothing else than a milking machine, which milks American money’s into itself, and those working for it are either Taleban’s itself, in relationships with Taleban’s, or widely accepted traitors. Look at the documentary: “This is what winning looks like”, and you’ll see an example of how “Afghan Army” is behaving towards Americans. Its propably the most corrupt country in the world now, as well as opium producer, and both are because they 1) milk American moneys pretending to work with it and 2) fight against the occupation.
If you dont realize the true nature of things, just like Barnett Rubin doesn’t, you continue to be milked for as long you pack your bags and leave as losers.
Btw, im quite sure IEA stands for Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and Barnett Rubin said “they dont want to re-establish Islamic Emirate, but form a government consistent with the beliefs of their people”, hahaha.. please Americans.. Stop already, im dying of laughter here..
afghan government installed by america is a puppet. it has sold out afghan interests to iran and america.
day by day, its becoming clear that the only solution to the conflict is america directly talking to the Taleban. Taleban is gaining ground and hearts, the puppet regime in kabul is loosing ground and hearts.
prolongation of the conflict only means an increase in support of Taleban and increase in corruption of the kabul government.
my advise, negotiate while you still can.
The Russians were there for 10 years and all they accomplished was getting their soldiers killed!! We have been there for 17 years and we have accomplished basically the same as the Russians!! It’s time to get the hell out of Afghanistan and Iraq!! You cannot win a war with kid gloves!! We tried that in Vietnam when DC and the bleeding hearts saw all the frontline footage every night on the evening news!! Time to bring the troops home!!