Afghanistan: US in ‘secret’ talks with Taliban

Afghanistan: US in ‘secret’ talks with Taliban

Kabul, 19 June (AKI) – The United States is alleged to have stepped up secret talks with the Taliban in a bid to resolve the escalating conflict in Afghanistan, an Italian magazine claimed on Friday. The latest edition of Panorama said that the Obama administration had given “new life” to a strategy begun by the previous Bush administration last September to negotiate with “moderate” Taliban leaders.

Despite the imminent arrival of 21,000 new US troops in Afghanistan, the US state department and the monarchy of Saudi Arabia are reported to be working together to improve dialogue with the Afghan Taliban.

Panorama said since late last year it was an open secret that western officials and representatives of Taliban leader Mullah Omar had met.

“You should not think of these as peace talks like the Paris peace talks between (former US secretary of state) Henry Kissinger and North Vietnam,” said Ettore Sequi, European Union special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“There are channels of communication that exist with the fragmented Taliban groups. The main question is: can we fight for years excluding that portion of these groups who are part of the fabric of the country?” Continue reading

U.S.: Plan to Split Taliban Lures Obama Deeper into War

Analysis by Gareth Porter* WASHINGTON, Mar 16 (IPS) – Advanced reports on the Barack Obama administration’s strategy to “peel off” a majority of insurgent commanders from the “hard core” of Taliban suggest that it will be presented as a political route to victory in Afghanistan that would not require U.S. and NATO troops to win militarily.

But experts warn that the strategy is unlikely to work. And by appearing to provide a political route to victory, the strategy is luring the administration into a renewed commitment to war in Afghanistan and diverting it away from a deal with the Taliban leadership aimed at keeping al Qaeda from having a presence there.
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A New Plan for Afghanistan

By MUNIR AKRAM | From today’s Wall Street Journal Asia

Whoever is elected president of the United States this week will face imposing challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan that require a new and comprehensive foreign policy strategy. Such a strategy will, by necessity, break away from the current political misperceptions and military missteps, and embrace a deeper understanding of the culture, traditions, needs and political motivations of both nations. Conducting business as usual will be a recipe for disaster. From my perspective as a long-time Pakistani diplomat, here are 10 elements for a new, realistic and successful regional strategy for the candidates to consider:

1. Understand the difference between the Taliban and al Qaeda, then focus on eliminating al Qaeda. We need a realistic approach to the Taliban. It is al Qaeda, not the Taliban, that threatens the U.S. homeland. Separating al Qaeda from the Taliban will make it easier for the U.S., Pakistan and allied intelligence, police and military operations to disrupt the group’s operational system. Continue reading

God’s thugs

Religious vigilante groups intent on rooting out ‘vulgarity’ are causing fear among Lahore’s traders


First, they went after the barber shops and video stores, razing to the ground those outlets they deemed inimical to their obscurantist interests.

Then came the girls’ schools: well over 50 in the past year alone, further hampering the cause of women’s rights (not to mention literacy) in an already avowedly patriarchal society. In the Taliban’s ongoing battle against primary education, four girls in a schoolbus killed by a roadside bomb in Upper Dir became the latest casualties last Wednesday. Continue reading

Afghan Official Says Islamic Militants Are Shifting From Iraq

Published: October 14, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan — American military successes in Iraq have prompted growing numbers of well-trained “foreign fighters” to join the insurgency in Afghanistan instead, the Afghan defense minister said on Tuesday. Continue reading