Jirga with the Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 5 months ago

From Reuters:

KABUL, Nov 22 (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai could invite militants to attend a “Loya Jirga”, or grand council meeting, aiming to seek peace and reconciliation with the Taliban, a spokesman said on Sunday.

The plans signal a more public effort to engage with militants during Karzai’s second term as leader, measures that Washington has encouraged in its counter-insurgency strategy.

Afghanistan’s constitution recognises the Loya Jirga — Pashtu for grand assembly — as “the highest manifestation of the will of the people of Afghanistan”.

Karzai announced plans for a Loya Jirga in his inauguration speech last week, describing it as a measure to promote peace but giving few details.

Under the Afghan constitution, a Loya Jirga made up of parliamentarians and chiefs of district and provincial councils can amend the constitution, impeach the president and “decide on issues related to independence, national sovereignty, territorial integrity as well as supreme national interests”.

The rare, colourful mass gatherings of elders have played crucial roles over the course of Afghan history.

Two have been held since the fall of the Taliban in 2001: one that named Karzai interim leader and a second that adopted the constitution. A third gathering of tribal chiefs from both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan frontier, was held in Kabul in 2007 to smooth over relations between the two countries.

The giant marquee tent where those assemblies were held is still standing in a Kabul field.

Hamid Elmi, a spokesman for Karzai, said the assembly envisioned by the president would not be the “Constitutional Loya Jirga” described formally under Afghan law but a “Traditional Loya Jirga”, which could have a different make-up of notables.

“The meaning of the traditional Loya Jirga is how to bring about peace and how to invite the Taliban and opposition in Afghanistan,” he said. “They are not coming to talk about the cabinet and the administration. They are coming to bring security and peace.”

Security and peace.  The Taliban who uses children in combat roles- Karzai is asking them for security and peace.  While the temperament of the people is important, much too much can be made of will of the population in the doctrines of population-centric counterinsurgency.  The U.S. Marine Corps campaign in Anbar encountered a people (i.e., the Sunnis) who had been disenfranchised because of the regime change in Iraq.  The will of the people was the very last thing the Marines had in their corner.

The so-called Sons of Iraq (or concerned citizens) were eager to side with the Marines in the security of Fallujah in 2007 because, quite simply, they were weary of fighting the Marines.  Karzai is attempting to settle with the Taliban not because they are weary of fighting us, but because we are weary of fighting them.  Or at least, weary of not being allowed to fight them.  That’s the difference in the campaigns – or at least, one big one.




You are currently reading "Jirga with the Taliban", entry #4244 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Counterinsurgency,Taliban and was published November 23rd, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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