What’s next? A moderate Al-Qaeda?
I know, I know — that’s not really even a joke. In a month or two someone in the State Department will leak the news that President Obama has opened a back channel of communication to Ayman al-Zawahiri as a way to isolate the “extremist” elements of Al-Qaeda. Wait and see.
Perhaps a Taliban moderate believes that the punishment for immoral teenage girls should be limited to fifty lashes. Or that people who listen to music should only have their hands cut off instead of being beheaded. Or that the minimum age for a bride should be raised from nine to ten.
I notice that this news story doesn’t even put “moderate” in quote marks when talking about Mullah Abdul Salem Zaeef. Evidently the reporter — and presumably influential elements of the British and American governments — really believe that there is such a thing as a moderate wing of the Taliban.
This reminds me of the American search for the elusive “Iranian moderates” in Khomeini’s regime back in the 1980s. As a part of the Iran-Contra affair, Reagan administration officials even sent a cake in the shape of a key to selected mullahs in Tehran, as a symbol of the opening of better relations between the two countries.
What will Obama send? Ipods and DVDs won’t go down too well with the Taliban.
Maybe a bust of Abraham Lincoln crafted out of opium poppies?
Anyway, here’s the story from The Telegraph:
Moderate Taliban Leader Warns Barack Obama’s Plan Will Make Afghanistan Worse
Nato’s planned troop surge to Afghanistan will lead to an escalation in fighting and jeopardise secretive peace moves, a senior Taliban moderate has warned.
The warning comes from a figure considered the moderate face of the former Taliban regime, who is expected to play a key role in paving the way for any reconciliation efforts.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mullah Abdul Salem Zaeef said the surge of mainly American troop reinforcements would only deepen the country’s problems and was likely to act as a magnet to foreign fighters. His comments appeared to dent hopes that President Barack Obama’s strategy could produce rapid progress towards peace in Afghanistan.
Here’s some more proof that the earnest fabricators of American foreign policy never, ever learn:
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Attempts to woo moderate Taliban commanders are central to the new US strategy for Afghanistan unveiled in Washington last month and discussed at the Nato summit in Strasbourg this weekend.
It doesn’t matter how many past efforts to woo Islamic extremists have failed.
History is irrelevant. We live in the eternal present, the magic moment in which a sincere and pragmatic outreach will sway the hearts and minds of Islamic extremists. They’re really just ordinary people like us, and will respond to positive treatment.
It worked so well with Brezhnev, and Khomeini, and Saddam, and Kim Jong-Il! Let’s give it a try with the Taliban.
The essence of the argument is that any Afghan “surge” will risk alienating the moderate Taliban and strengthen the hand of the extremists. Sound familiar?
However the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, who spent nearly four years in Guantanamo Bay prison, said the planned increase in troop numbers had instead jeopardised a Saudi peace initiative and would attract more foreign jihadists to the country.
He said the movement was united and talk of moderate or extremist factions was a conspiracy to undermine the Taliban.
A western diplomatic source said the US troops surge was needed to counter the Taliban’s own offensive, and added that the comments appeared to show the Taliban leadership was not yet ready for peace talks.
The Taliban had such hopes for Barack Hussein Obama, but the Messiah has let them down, and disillusionment has crept in:
Mullah Zaeef said: “All the people were optimistic when Obama became president. I was a little optimistic that he would stop the war, but when he declared the strategy, especially sending more troops and sending a military man as the ambassador, these strategies are war strategies, not a peace strategy and it’s increasing the problem.”
He said: “The Saudis wanted to be the interpreter between the Taliban and the government and they did something, but increasing more troops is destroying this process.” He said any reconciliation between Afghans could not take place while foreign troops were in the country.
President Obama’s order to send another 17,000 US troops to Afghanistan this year, with a request from US commanders for a further 10,000 still pending, would also make the Taliban more extremist, he said. “When the enemy becomes stronger, the other enemy becomes more extreme to exist.” He dismissed the US focus on hunting al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying the core of the terrorist network only amounted to around 100 men, but said the surge would attract foreign jihadis.
“When they are increasing the number of soldiers, foreigners in Muslim countries they are increasing their soldiers and their soldiers are not soldiers by money, they are volunteers. And that’s increasing the problem in the area.”
Attempts to work with Pakistan to deny the Taliban safe havens in the country’s tribal border regions were also unlikely to work, Mullah Zaeef claimed.
He said: “Pakistan is not able to resolve the problem. If Pakistan wants to create problems for the Taliban, then it means creating problems for themselves.”
Pakistan has been warned. In fact, the Taliban in Pakistan have announced that they are on the verge of taking over the entire country:
Time to send them a nice big yellow cake in the shape of a chicken.
Hat tip: Aeneas and Vlad Tepes.