5 years, 11 months ago
The Telegraph is reporting that there are ongoing secret negotiations between British intelligence and the Taliban.
Agents from MI6 entered secret talks with Taliban leaders despite Gordon Brown’s pledge that Britain would not negotiate with terrorists, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
Officers from the Secret Intelligence Service staged discussions, known as “jirgas”, with senior insurgents on several occasions over the summer.
An intelligence source said: “The SIS officers were understood to have sought peace directly with the Taliban with them coming across as some sort of armed militia. The British would also provide ‘mentoring’ for the Taliban.”
The disclosure comes only a fortnight after the Prime Minister told the House of Commons: “We will not enter into any negotiations with these people.”
Opposition leaders said that Mr Brown had “some explaining to do”.
The Government was apparently prepared to admit that the talks had taken place but Gordon Brown was thought to have “bottled out” just before Prime Minister’s Questions on Dec 12, when he made his denial instead.
It is thought that the Americans were extremely unhappy with the news becoming public that an ally was negotiating with terrorists who supported the September 11 attackers.
This is further confirmation, but to be precise, this is not news. We have previously discussed the fact that British officials believed the Taliban to be too deeply rooted to be eradicated by military means, and had intended to court the alleged more “moderate” members of the Taliban to attempt to divide their organization. We have also discussed the fact that Britain does support negotiations with the Taliban and sees a role for them to play in the new Afghanistan.
“Britain will support deals with Taliban insurgents to give them places in Afghanistan’s new government and military, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced yesterday, distancing himself from the Canadian and U.S. strategy of refusing to sit down with the Taliban. In a speech to the House of Commons announcing a new Afghanistan strategy, Mr. Brown said that Britain will join Afghan President Hamid Karzai in making money and job offers to “former insurgents.”
Brown is referring to an effort underway by Hamid Karzai to obtain the loyalties of the lieutenants of Mullah Omar and thus split the organization. The price for this loyalty is a place at the table in the new Afghanistan. So Prime Minister Brown will likely continue to play politics before the House of Commons and explain that Britain really doesn’t negotiate with the Taliban, but supports settling with the more ‘moderate’ Lieutenants of the senior leadership in order to fragment the Taliban.
He is taking this position because not a single country currently engaged in Afghanistan is willing to send more troops into the theater except the U.S., and Gates himself is only willing to commit an additional 7500 troops despite the ongoing review of the Afghanistan counterinsurgency campaign. The British position is based on the American experience in Anbar of co-opting the enemy, or settling with erstwhile insurgents with the concerned citizens program. Or so they think.
Sadly, this is to mistake the Anbar narrative. In Anbar, the U.S. Marines gave the U.S. the upper hand from three hard years of kinetic operations, and negotiations with the tribes took place from the perspective of strength. Further, the Anbari tribes were not, for the most part, fighting from a perspective of religious fervor. It is one thing to settle with insurgents who need jobs to feed their families. It is quite another to settle with men who desire your death because of religious beliefs – like the Taliban. The Brits are involved in a dirty game, indeed.