Thursday, November 13, 2008

Negotiating with the Taliban: "Anybody who does this is not a friend of Afghanistan."

From my essay in today's National Post:

Among Kabul's human rights activists, student leaders and women's rights groups, the big fear isn't the spectre of Taliban militias rolling back into Kabul. The much greater threat comes from places like Washington, Tehran and Islamabad. It's the clamour for a backroom deal with the Taliban (with President Hamid Karzai's signature on it for the sake of appearances). The stink of a looming betrayal is everywhere, and Kabulis, betrayed so many times before, can smell it a mile away.

Even Karzai's closest supporters are starting to get sick of it. Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Spanta recently uttered a blistering rebuke to "so-called peacemakers" after the Saudis quietly brought together some Taliban-connected characters in Mecca and the President's businessman brother, Qayyum Karzai. Spanta says he's had quite enough of schemes to "surrender this land to the enemy."

When Karzai was elected in 2004, he was already saddled with several vicious warlords that had been talked down from the mountains. Ever since, he has been promising Afghanistan's remaining insurgents that he will embrace them, too, if they pledge to honour the Afghan constitution and respect the rule of law. In return, the Taliban have consistently thumbed their noses at Karzai. Nonetheless, in recent weeks, entreaties to the Taliban have gone into overdrive.

"We do not trust these things that are happening behind closed doors. It is coming from outside the country," Fatana Gilani, the head of the Afghanistan Women's Council, told me the other day. "Anybody who does this is not a friend of Afghanistan."

Now I want you to imagine a boot, stamping on a human face, forever.

5 Comments:

Blogger Robert G. said...

Kick ass.

Get back here in one piece, will ya?

9:22 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Terry:

Just yesterday I watched the increasingly smarmy Tom Friedman on MSNBC Morning Joe counselling Obama on basically decamping from Afghanistan, after settling US relationship with Iran, Russia and China. The usual arguments, a la Denise Savoie, that Afghani society is too tribal, and that the more "conciliatory" Talibans must be engaged.

Interestingly enough, no one asked what about the women of Afghanistan and how is this going to affect whatever gains they have made so far.

Funny how the love, hearts and minds of some countries are more desirable than the hearts and minds of the Afghani women, the biggest losers, if this should come to pass.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Roland Dodds said...

Great frickin work Terry; your National Post piece was dead on.

2:57 AM  
Blogger IceClass said...

I'm afraid I've been noticing the smell of betrayal in the media this week. With the economy tanking, it's going to be extremely hard to convince the politicians to stand firm and keep boots on the ground.
I genuinely fear we will abandon them.

7:56 AM  
Blogger J. L. Krueger said...

Terry:

Spot on. I'm a retired US Army officer currently working with the Afghan Army (for the US Army). I am on the streets of Kabul every day (unarmed). There are parts of some cities in the US in which I would feel less safe than in Kabul.

Every time I see a report about how the Taliban is "closing in" or that we should cut an run it infuriates me. I wonder if there is a Kabul in a parallel universe from which these reporters are reporting.

Great piece.

1:42 AM  

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