Ashgabat, 21 June 2013 (nCa) — Let’s pack a lot of gobbledygook in one long sentence: Karzai announced plans to negotiate with Taliban, Americans trumped it within three hours by making counter announcement that they will negotiate with Taliban on bilateral basis in Doha, without anyone else on the table; Taliban opened office in Doha and named it representative office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Karzai objected to it; Taliban killed four Americans within hours of announcement of their agreement to negotiate with Americans, for good measure they also killed four Afghan soldiers; Americans remained adamant they will proceed with talks with Taliban despite setbacks, Karzai said he will boycott all negotiations.
All of this, in less than twenty hours!
It is difficult to resist the temptation to say what every other observer is saying: What was the point of this war if the end had to be bargained with the Taliban on the negotiation table.
The fact – the odious fact – is that Americans have been sowing Skunk Cabbage all along and now they hope that somehow Jasmine will bloom in their garden.
From personal knowledge and experience, I would like to point out some basic flaws in the American strategy:
1. As opposed to their pre-9/11 structure, Taliban are not a unified body anymore. Someone who is in a position to know what is what, told me last year that Mulla Omar is not in a position to impose his will on any group identifying itself as Taliban.
2. The same person told that the real force in Taliban are the young fighters who are comparatively educated, tech savvy and able to learn quickly from their experience. His argument was that over the years the Taliban have learned to hide from the eye in the sky i.e. the drone. Has asked me, have you noticed that lately the Taliban casualties have not been disproportionately high compared to occupying forces casualties, as was the case at the start of this war?
3. Taliban were not the real problem of Afghanistan. Whether we like it or not, the following facts would ultimately determine as to how the history is written:
- There was no justification for the war because Mulla Omar, on the insistence of his teacher Mufti Shamzai, had agreed that he would expel Osama bin Laden provided he is tried in an Islamic country by a Muslim judge. His only condition was that he will not hand bin Lade to Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. The war could have been averted had this proposal been accepted.
- Someone close to Mulla Omar told me in October 2000 (a year before 9/11 and the war) that they had removed bin Laden from the decision-making circle already and were trying to find some other country that would be willing to accept him and his entourage. This was confirmed again when I spoke to a minister of the Taliban government in December 2000. As far as I know, the Americans were not only aware of this but they had also threatened to shoot down any aircraft that was suspected to be carrying bin Laden. It means that Americans were itching to punish Afghanistan for hosting bin Laden but were also denying any options to eject bin Laden from Afghanistan.
- There was zero poppy cultivation in the last year of the rule of Taliban in Afghanistan.
- The reason why Taliban took over most of Afghanistan with hardly any bloodshed was that the people were tired of the corruption and ruthlessness of the warlords. Corruption is at its highest once again, nurturing new leaves on the withered shrub of people’s support for the Taliban.
- The Taliban justice was rough but swift and real; an eye for an eye, a life for a life. This is rather barbaric but the majority of the Afghan people understands and accepts it.
- The Taliban did not interfere in the affairs of their neighbouring countries, nor did they declare any intention of doing so. All they wanted was to be left alone.
4. Doha (Qatar) is not a neutral territory. It is home to three American bases: 1. Al Udeid Air Base, 2. As Saliyah Army Base, and 3. Doha International Air Base. The US Central Command Forward Headquarters and the Combined Air Operations Centre are based there, covering the whole of Middle East and South and Central Asia. The presence of a Taliban office in Doha already compromises the concept of neutral talks.
5. What started initially as mere speculation is now being repeated by reliable sources such as AsSafir and Lebanon News of Lebanon and Haaretz of Israel (http://www.lebanonews.net/content/sheikh-hamad%E2%80%99s-stepping-down-us-decision and http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/qatar-s-palace-intrigues-and-reshaping-of-the-middle-east.premium-1.530396) that the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is preparing to abdicate in favour of his son, crown prince Tamim. AsSafir says that the ruler has been forced by the Americans to step down and the decision was conveyed to him through a CIA official. It says that the prime minister and foreign minister would also resign and leave Qatar. This puts endless question marks against the American decision to negotiate with the Taliban from their office in Doha.
6. The Taliban point man in Doha office would be Tayeb Agha, who is known as a mean of limited influence. He cannot be expected to speak on behalf of all the groups and factions.
7. General Dostum, and ethnic Uzbek and the most brutal of all warlords, has already started distributing arms and weapons to his affiliate groups in Jowzjan province. In earlier reports, Russia is ready to arm and support some factions of the former Northern Alliance. If Afghanistan returns to warlordism, which is a plausible scenario, it would be because of the shortsighted policies of the United States that came to Afghanistan on the back (actually horseback) of Northern Alliance and created a government and army where the non-Pashtuns carry weight quite disproportional to their actual percentage in the population.