Sunday, April 12, 2009


Is the US selling out to the Taliban?
Afghans are wondering if Barack Obama is preparing to trade democracy and human rights for peace

Nushin Arbabzadah, Sunday 12 April 2009 11.00 BST

Ask any Afghan on the ground or abroad what they think of President Obama and the answer you'd get is that he's sending us mixed signals. Obama is an excellent communicator back home in the US and abroad at international meetings but when it comes to Afghanistan his clarity of thought disappears in the fog of war.
The people of Afghanistan want a clear stance from Obama: is he or is he not serious about fighting terrorism? At present, the general feeling is that he is not – at least not as serious as he appeared to be during his campaign for presidency. In the polite words of Afghan daily, Hasht-e Sobh, "The main concern felt in progressive and civil society circles is that the international community, the US in particular, might negotiate with terrorists and bargain the people's fundamental rights in the process."
In other words, the US might offer the Taliban a role in the government in return for abandoning the pursuit of democracy and human rights in the country. A frightening thought for all those Afghans who have risked their lives to fight for women's rights, freedom of speech and civil society. According to Hasht-e Sobh, if such suspicion turned out to be true, "the biggest loser in the deal would be the US itself". The paper continued: "This is because the US came here to spread and support democracy and to fight terrorists. The same terrorists who eight years earlier, on 11 September, created such widespread fear in America that the whole world became witness to their horror."
But who's negotiating with whom and where? According to the Afghan daily Nokhost, which in turn quotes anonymous sources, a representative of Gulboddin Hekmatyar, renegade jihadi leader and troublemaker par excellence, is presently residing in Washington, having already handed over a letter from Hekmatyar to US authorities. The content of the letter? Fix a date for US troops' withdrawal and Hekmatyar will cooperate in establishing a coalition government in Kabul.
In an article published on the Russo-Afghan news website Afghan-Ru, Dr Shah Massoud, an Afghan expert in international relations, says US special envoy Richard Holbrooke and his staff have already held meetings with Taliban representatives, some in Pakistan, some in Dubai and yet others in Kabul's Serena Hotel where an entire floor had been booked under the name of the ex-US envoy to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad. The meetings discussed the possibility of drafting a new Afghan constitution, presumably to include more Taliban ideology and less democracy. This would also explain why Zalmay Khalilzad, ironically himself a chief architect of the present constitution, recently announced that Afghanistan was in need of a new constitution.
In the words of Dr Shah Massoud, "We all know that there is neither friendship nor enmity in politics. The United States created the Taliban to begin with in order to reach its own goals in the region and even now, it is aware that making use of the Taliban is the only option for the US to avoid further American casualties and to achieve America's goals in an easy and financially affordable manner." According to Dr Massoud, in the near future, we can expect to witness the establishment of new oppressive regimes, from military dictatorships to suffocating theocracies, in strategic regional areas such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. All these regimes will be oppressive but they'll all be allies of the US administration.
In view of this fear of abandonment (once again the world is seeing us as a trap that they need to escape from) Afghan commentators welcomed US secretary of state Hillary Clinton's encouragement of Iran and Pakistan to play a positive role in the country's stabilisation. This happened in The Hague during a conference called "Afghanistan's Future". While the world media was reporting friendly meetings between US and Iranian officials, the people of the Hague were flying kites in solidarity with the Afghan people. The colourful kites were an Oxfam initiative and a reminder to the world leaders not to forget ordinary Afghans on the ground during their high-level schmoozing.
President Karzai was quick to welcome the new approach towards the neighbouring countries. He said: "There will be no success in the fight against terrorism without true cooperation on the part of the neighbouring countries. Indeed, winning is impossible without them." Nokhost daily was equally positive about the new approach: "The US presence in Afghanistan has for a long time caused worry to some of the regional countries and Afghanistan's neighbours. Afghanistan needs to reassure its neighbours about the US presence in the country so that they can help Afghans with peace of mind."
Sayed Hossein Olomi Balkhi, an MP for Kabul province, was also supportive of the new regard for the country's neighbours. "The regional countries reacted positively to the proposal and did not try to take revenge from Nato and the US. If they wanted revenge, they could have said no and could have abandoned Nato in this swamp and this would have resulted in defeat - Nato's defeat in Afghanistan which in turn would have meant Nato's dissolution."
Olomi added that it was in the interests of the neighbouring countries to fight against terrorism because if the struggle was lost in Afghanistan, the threat of terrorism would spill over to their countries. Dr Massoud expressed a similar warning but put it in much stronger words: "The neighbouring countries should beware that if the foreign troops leave Afghanistan, a war will break out in the country and this in itself will be a serious threat to the whole region. The US's priority is security for its own people, but not security in Afghanistan. An example for this is George Bush's suggestion to the Taliban prior to 11 September to hand over Osama Bin Laden in return for US protection of the Taliban's regime. That's why the neighbouring countries should no longer pin their hopes on the US to sort out Afghanistan."
The future of Afghanistan now depends on the goodwill of its neighbours, Iran and Pakistan. Goodwill may not come easy to Tehran or Islamabad but, in this time of financial insecurity, peace surely is the more affordable option for everyone involved in the Afghan crisis.

If Afghanistan falls to the Taliban terrorism will not overflow to Iran and Pakistan because they are both terror sponsoring states. It will permit all three countries to focus their terror activities on the rest of the world and you can bet the US and Israel are at the top of their list.
Isn't it revealing how easily the sophisticated left will throw their women's rights stance overboard not to mention democracy (which is much easier to dispose of as many don't care for it anyway). It's okay for the Left that Islams imperialism is on the move but heaven for fend we should promote democracy.

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