NATO Leaders Invite “Victors” to Kabul

Vladislav Vorobyev (Russia)

US journalists have pounced on another information leak. This time it appears they were told in secret that American soldiers in Afghanistan are not eliminating Taliban leaders. Rather, they are protecting them and even transporting them to Kabul for talks.

We can easily imagine the high-ranking militants smiling at NATO officers and shaking their hands as they say goodbye, then returning to their positions, getting their guns and again taking aim. Anyway, that’s exactly what the American press thinks is happening in Afghanistan now. And if we’re to believe what we read, a valuable “human cargo” is being delivered to the Afghan capital as though on a conveyor belt. It all seems very much like a theater of the absurd. But there’s another side to the coin. This is apparently NATO’s last chance to pull out of Afghanistan without disgrace.

According to the New York Times, for example, the first round of negotiations that are extremely important to Afghanistan’s future has already been held in Kabul. After all, virtually no one now is disputing the assertion that NATO sooner or later will have to negotiate with the moderate Taliban to achieve peace in Afghanistan. But how can they determine which of those firing from ambushes, laying mines and shooting at military convoys are moderates? It has apparently been decided to talk with those who are willing. And NATO’s leaders obviously no longer care who among the negotiators are bloody to the elbow and who only have bloody fingers.

NATO isn’t concealing its willingness to share responsibility for the situation in Afghanistan with virtually any Afghan political force. The main thing is that this force conduct itself in a manner acceptable to the West and that it can in fact control the territory entrusted to it. Afghan President Hamid Karzai clearly disagrees with the second condition.

According to the New York Times, high-ranking members of the Taliban Council (Shura—ed. note) from the Pakistani city of Quetta, which “oversees the Taliban war effort inside Afghanistan,” took part in the negotiations. Meetings also took place with leaders of the Haqqani network—the most hard-line guerrilla faction. The newspaper stressed that the guests of the Afghan capital were absolutely confident of their security because they had received “explicit assurance that they will not be attacked or arrested by NATO forces.” Moreover, they supposedly were brought to Kabul on NATO aircraft.

However, this story is unlikely to end well for NATO. A New York Times’ source admitted that “as long as the Taliban believe they are winning, they do not seem likely to want to make a deal.” The article also quoted CIA director Leon Panetta as saying he has not “seen anything that indicates that at this point a serious effort is being made to reconcile.”

The question then is, why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to transport people to Kabul and back again who are not serious negotiators? Are things really that bad for NATO in Afghanistan?

On the other hand, perhaps no negotiations are actually taking place. And the “leak” to the American press is only an attempt to sow discord among the Taliban, who should start accusing each other of treachery after reading the New York Times. Then it would be easier to pick them off one at a time. But what can NATO do if that doesn’t happen?

Source: New Eastern Outlook

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