TERRORISTS ACCELERATE VIOLENCE, BUT OBAMA WANTS TO “TALK” TO “MODERATE” TALIBAN…

Posted on March 10, 2009. Filed under: News And Politics... |

 

Thirty-three people were killed in a suicide attack in Baghdad.  An eyewitness said the Tuesday attack was carried out by a person wearing a national police uniform.  http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/03/10/iraq.bomb.reconciliation/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

This is the third major attack in the past few days, raising concerns of an uptick in violence in Iraq.  U.S. Army officials have stated that the recent attacks are simply a sign of desperation on the part of terror groups seeking to undermine security gains made in Iraq.

Obama wants to "talk" with the Taliban (story follows).  It’s a good step in theory, but the way things are today, giving peace a chance with the Taliban is like putting a pack of starving wolves into a hen house.  I guess we have relaxed our rules of not negotiating with terrorists.  Obama may have been able to talk his way into the hearts of many Americans and into the White House, but the Taliban won’t be easily swayed with his double-talk.  I believe he’s trying to connect with Muslims now since he denied being a Muslim during his campaigning like it was a bad thing, which it is not.  Obama used all three names when he took the oath of office in January which is strange because his middle name, "Hussein" was taboo during the campaign, except by critics.  In his first post-election newspaper interview with reporters from the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, Obama was asked: “Do you anticipate being sworn in as Barack Obama or Barack Hussein Obama?"  He replied: “I think the tradition is that they use all three names, and I will follow the tradition, not trying to make a statement one way or the other. I’ll do what everybody else does.”  Sorry, Obama, not every president used their middle name when taking the oath of office, and it is not a "tradition" to do so.  Jimmy Carter went as “Jimmy Carter” and Ronald Wilson Reagan took the oath as “Ronald Reagan.”  This is Obama’s cunning way of gaining alliance with the Muslim community.  Remember last year when two Muslim women, dressed in hijab, were sitting behind Obama’s podium at one of Obama’s rallies in Detroit, MI?  They were asked to leave the stage by the Obama camp because in this "political climate", it would not be prudent for Obama to be seen on camera with Muslim women in hijab behind him.  My, my, my, Obama.  You are truly transparent.

I’m all for treating people as you would want to be treated, but the mission of the Taliban is clearly not a peaceful one.  Pamphlets distributed in the Miranshah Bazaar and other areas of the agency headquarters said the forces led by Mullah Muhammad Omar and Osama Bin Laden were fighting against "infidels" led by Obama, Pakistani President Asif Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  They quoted verses from the Quran calling for people to fight "a holy war against infidels", who they said were killing "innocent" Muslims.  These are the same people who orchestrated the killing of thousands of lives and caused great devastation at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Reaching out to them may do more harm than good.  Obama’s interventions aren’t getting high marks right now.  Bending under their tyranny would only be misconstrued as a sign of weakness to them.

QueenBee

Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2009

Talking with the Taliban: Obama Idea Draws Skepticism

By Aryn Baker / Kabul

Fighters with Afghanistan’s Taliban militia stand on a hillside at Maydan Shahr in Wardak province, west of Kabul
 

Seeking alliances with more moderate Taliban elements against al-Qaeda is not a new idea in the Afghanistan-Pakistan context, but until now it is one that has typically drawn a skeptical response — from U.S. officials who have regularly cast doubt on the wisdom of Pakistan pursuing such agreements. So, the news last weekend that President Barack Obama was entertaining the same idea to reverse what he described as a war that America is losing in Afghanistan was greeted with some raised eyebrows in the region. Obama’s suggestion was welcomed by President Hamid Karzai, who has been advocating a similar approach for some time now. "This is approval of our previous stance and we accept and praise it," Karzai said Sunday. But Karzai’s own exhortations to the Taliban to come to the negotiating table have always carried an air of desperation, seen in the context of the militant’s steady advances across much of Afghanistan, while his own authority doesn’t extend much beyond the capital. His proposals have always been vague over just how what is fundamentally a power struggle could be resolved through talks. And those are just two of the problems identified by skeptics of President Obama’s latest proposal.

Obama has authorized the deployment of 17,000 American troops to reinforce the NATO mission currently struggling to contain the Taliban’s advance. That’s only half of the number requested by U.S. commanders on the ground, but the President is awaiting the completion of a strategy review (the third since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in late 2001) before committing to a new plan. And his comments on Saturday, in an interview with the New York Times, suggest that reconciliation with elements of the Taliban may be a key part of that strategy. For many observers on the ground, however, proposing negotiations and compromise while the Taliban is militarily in the ascendancy sounds like capitulation. (See pictures from the frontline of the war against the Taliban.)

Nobody has defined the negotiation strategy, in as much as even determining what would constitute a Taliban "moderate" and what exactly they’d be asked to "reconcile" with — much less considered, given the balance of power on the ground, what the U.S. and its Afghan allies would have to concede in order to get a deal that would make a difference. The model for Obama’s suggestion, of course, is Iraq, where the U.S. managed to pacify Anbar province by recruiting most of the local Sunni sheikhs, who had previously been part of the insurgency, to wage a common fight against al-Qaeda. But Obama himself admitted that the Iraq strategy is hardly an easy fit: "The situation in Afghanistan is, if anything, more complex [than Iraq]," he told the New York Times. "You have a less-governed region, a history of fierce independence among tribes… [which]sometimes operate at cross-purposes, and so figuring all that out is going to be much more of a challenge."

Indeed, far more of a challenge than Obama acknowledged. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was led by foreign jihadists, making it easier to turn locals against the organization, particularly when they chafed under its imposition of strict Islamic law. But in Afghanistan, particularly in the south where the insurgency is at its strongest, the militants are natives. In Iraq, an established and functioning government could also offer sheikhs switching sides a credible alternative center of power, whereas in Afghanistan, the government is generally perceived to be corrupt, weak and unable to provide security. In Iraq, moreover, the strategy depended less on the willingness of the insurgents to change their minds on the new order in Iraq than on the ability of the U.S. to buy them off in exchange for temporary cooperation against a common foe. But in Afghanistan, the ethnic political coordinates and the political consequences of accommodating the insurgency may be substantially different.

The Taliban is predominately based among ethnic Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group. Increasing Pashtun power in government would exacerbate ethnic tensions in the capital and in the relatively stable north, where Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara groups that helped Karzai into power are in the majority. Success in Iraq, moreover, was based on the presence of security forces numbering some 600,000 troops and policemen (Iraqi and foreign), whereas Afghanistan, which is larger both in land mass and population, has only 160,000. The moderate Sunni insurgents in Iraq could be confident that they would be protected if they switched sides, but NATO forces in Afghanistan would not be in a position to offer the same guarantees to Taliban-aligned warlords who change their allegiance, making such defections less likely.

"We should identify what are the limits of the concessions the government is willing to give," says Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi, the former Minister of Finance now running against Karzai for president. "Probably they will have some demands of their own, and we might have to be more accepting of those demands, like increased cultural conservatism. But if they say we will not accept a leadership based on elections I am not sure we can accept that."

Even many ordinary Afghans who loathe the Taliban favor negotiation in the hope that they can reverse the deteriorating security situation. "We’ve had 30 years of war and fighting has not provided the solution, so now we have to try negotiations," says Ahmedzai, an employee at an international development agency. But that’s an option born of despair. "We hate the Taliban, but we also hate the suicide bombings," says 18-year-old student Hekmatullah Hekmat. "In order to have a peaceful, stable Afghanistan we must negotiate," but adds that if the price of peace is a return to the social strictures of the Taliban era, "I will run away to Pakistan, all of the Afghans will."

And many in Kabul, who have embraced the freedom won by the invasion, raise a moral argument against concessions to the Taliban. "Are you going to sacrifice the hard-won freedoms of 29 million people for the sake of a few hundred thousand militants?" says a Kabul-based businessman who declines to use his name for fear of repercussions. "That just opens up the floodgates to any one who wants to have a stake in power, all he has to do is just go and be as violent as possible; kill a couple of people and there will be some sort of concessions made and he can come into power." Many Afghans like the businessman quoted fear that Obama’s proposal heralds the onset of a policy aimed at withdrawing from the quagmire rather than helping Afghanistan to its feet. "Basically it means that suddenly you have capitulated on your core fundamental principals for the sake of a few weeks of peace and getting out of here." But given the direction of the war, many in Washington, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, have begun to bluntly argue that setting up a state in Afghanistan based on the core principles America holds dear may be a bridge too far.

 

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