5 years, 11 months ago
We have already discussed how settlement with the Anbari tribes was different than the British strategy of talking with the Taliban, so we won’t reiterate that here. But the debate has not gone away and talking with the Taliban continues to be a wrench in the strategy toolbox.
The newly appointed governor of Helmand province has vowed to hold face-to-face meetings with Taliban fighters as part of a new strategy to quell the insurgency raging in Afghanistan’s poppy belt.
Gulab Mangal takes up what is perhaps one of the toughest jobs in Afghanistan next week when he will fly to a province that is both the country’s most violent and its biggest opium producer.
In an interview with the Financial Times, the wellregarded former governor of Laghman province said one of his first tasks would be to set up traditional Afghan jirgas – councils or meetings – with “second and third-tier” fighters. He said he hoped to prove to insurgents, and to ordinary Afghans, that only the government could deliver schools, roads and social services.
So who are these tier one, two and three fighters and for what do they fight?
Second and third-tier fighters tend to be either hired guns who fight for pay or bored youths who have drifted into fighting and have been alienated from local government because of corrupt officials.
Tier-one Taliban, the movement’s ideological hard core, which has been heavily influenced by al-Qaeda, are generally considered to be irreconcilable.
The Taliban have been around at least as long as al Qaeda and were in no need of influence to become militant Islamists. As for these second and third-tier fighters, they are bored teenagers or criminals who are nothing more than hired guns. So the new governor of the Helmand province wishes to convince criminals and bored teenagers to relinquish their participation in the Taliban because the government can build better schools and roads? Seriously?
The sad part about this is that this strategy will cost lives and time, neither of which can be spared. If we were to listen to at least one British aid (former aid to Blair), the situation would get even worse.
Western governments should talk to Islamist extremists including Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to end violence, one of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s closest aides said in comments published Saturday.
“It’s very difficult for democratic governments to do — talk to a terrorist movement that’s killing your people,” Blair’s former chief of staff Jonathan Powell he told The Guardian in an interview.
“(But) if I was in government now I would want to have been talking to Hamas, I would be wanting to communicate with the Taliban and I would want to find a channel to Al-Qaeda.”
This must be the same al Qaeda and Taliban (Baitullah Mehsud) who said that “We want to eradicate Britain and America, and to shatter the arrogance and tyranny of the infidels. We pray that Allah will enable us to destroy the White House, New York, and London.” In this case, the British government should dispatch Powell with haste into the North West Frontier Province to find Mehsud and strike up talks with him. Make sure his insurance is paid up before he goes.