Friday, 26 November 2010

Dear, Oh Dear

 Making a Quick Buck in Afghanistan

The war is not going well in Afghanistan. OK, so this latest report comes from the New York Times, not a cheerleader for US military in general, and sceptical of the rectitude of the war in Afghanistan, in particular. Nevertheless, if the report is true it makes for very sober reading. Yet, from another perspective it is funny.

We have heard for some time how the Taliban are getting war weary. There have been reports of very high level Taliban sitting down to negotiate with Nato and the Afghan government. They appeared to be looking for a face-saving way out.

Taliban Leader in Secret Talks Was an Impostor

KABUL, Afghanistan — For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement.

But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little.

“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.” (Emphasis, ours)

Some very resourceful con-man whipped across the Pakistan border and presented himself as a senior Taliban leader.  He met with the Americans three times.  He even met with Hamid Karzai, having been flown there on a NATO aircraft.  In just those three meetings the Americans managed to pay him a lot of money. 
The Western diplomat said the Afghan man was initially given a sizable sum of money to take part in the talks — and to help persuade him to return.
Now he has been confirmed to be an impostor--a considerably more wealthy one than before his trips across the border it would seem. There is speculation as to whether he was acting on his own, or was sent over by the Taliban leadership to gain insight into the mind of the enemy, or whether he was sent by the Pakistani Intelligence Service which has not-so-secretly supported the Taliban for years.

Because of these talks, the Americans came to believe that they had been successful in putting the Taliban under serious pressure and that a negotiated end to the war was likely. 
As recently as last month, American and Afghan officials held high hopes for the talks. Senior American officials, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, said the talks indicated that Taliban leaders, whose rank-and-file fighters are under extraordinary pressure from the American-led offensive, were at least willing to discuss an end to the war.
Apparently the US had been pleasantly surprised about the reasonableness of the fake Taliban negotiator.
Whatever the Afghan man’s identity, the talks that unfolded between the Americans and the man claiming to be Mr. Mansour seemed substantive, the Afghan leader said. The man claiming to be representing the Taliban laid down several surprisingly moderate conditions for a peace settlement: that the Taliban leadership be allowed to safely return to Afghanistan, that Taliban soldiers be offered jobs, and that prisoners be released.The Afghan man did not demand, as the Taliban have in the past, a withdrawal of foreign forces or a Taliban share of the government.
You don't say!  No wonder the US commander, General Petraeus was persuaded that they were winning and wearing the Taliban out.  The "reasonableness" of the impostor would imply the Taliban were under great pressure.  But another ex-Taliban commander has a very different view. 

Sayed Amir Muhammad Agha, a onetime Taliban commander who says he has left the Taliban but who acted as a go-between with the movement in the past, said in an interview that he did not know the tale of the impostor. But he said the Taliban leadership had given no indications of a willingness to enter talks.  “Someone like me could come forward and say, ‘I am a Talib and a powerful person,’ ” he said. “But I can tell you, nothing is going on.” “Whenever I talk to the Taliban, they never accept peace and they want to keep on fighting,” he said. “They are not tired.”
We continue to wonder just how long it will be before the US government faces reality and admits defeat.  Politically, of course, it is a very hard thing to do--and Obama now has too much capital invested in his war.  yet it is inevitable.  Meanwhile from the "part" of Afghanistan that is willingly submitting itself to US "nation building" we read this: 

Sayed Mossa is a new believer in Afghanistan who is in jail in Afghanistan because he decided, of his own free choice, to follow Jesus. In this letter he managed to smuggle out through the hands of a Westerner, he describes daily beatings, torture, and sexual molestation. He stands to be executed for his decision to follow Jesus next week.He has a wife and 6 children, one of whom is disabled.

Part of me flushes with anger when I consider the price America has paid to help Afghanistan escape from the Taliban, and think that this is how the new government treats its own people. Is this what we sacrificed to produce? Is freedom of conscience and freedom of speech not a fundamental right of human beings everywhere?  (H/T: Justin Taylor)
How's that hopey changey nation building working out for y'all?

No comments: