‘Obama’s only way out of Afghanistan is to talk’

‘Obama’s only way out of Afghanistan is to talk’ by Tariq Ali for the Guardian, January 20, 2012

This week Afghan guerrillas carried out yet another raid on the Kandahar airbase. General John Allen, the American commander of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), issued an odd statement: “Mullah Omar has lost all control over Taliban insurgents, otherwise he would immediately denounce these attacks and order his ‘forces’ to stop attacking innocent Afghan civilians.”

The same Mullah Omar who has been on the most wanted list since 9/11? Remarkable only if one wasn’t aware that the Omar faction of the Taliban has been conducting on-and-off negotiations with the US for several years. None have so far resulted in an agreement.

The Kandahar attack may have been carried out by another faction, one that is hostile to the very idea of talking to the occupier, but it could just as easily be another shot across the bows of a tired empire, just to hurry things along. All the media-hyped advances in Afghanistan were illusory. Hence the need to negotiate with the insurgents and further isolate the Karzai regime.

Different factions of the neo-Taliban have been preparing to take power for the last two years. Their assaults on security installations, intelligence outposts and helicopters carrying Nato intelligence top brass indicate the extent to which they have infiltrated Isaf’s “loyal Afghan” networks. The form of guerrilla warfare, if not the ideology of its proponents, is not dissimilar to resistance movements in the Second World War and the Vietnamese, Chinese and Cuban experiences, codified by Giap, Mao and Che Guevara.

Several months after his inauguration, Obama pushed through an arrogant escalation of the warbacked by the EU vassal states, butresisted by some of his own generals including Karl Eikenberry, the ambassador in Kabul. Obama’s reasoning went thus: “If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban – or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged – that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can … For the Afghan people, a return to Taliban rule would condemn their country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralysed economy, and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people – especially women and girls. The return in force of al-Qaida terrorists who would accompany the core Taliban leadership would cast Afghanistan under the shadow of perpetual violence.”

But many of these vices exist already (including the condition of women). More importantly, the reckless assaults on villages and “targeted” enemies upped the civilian casualty rate, providing easy recruits for the insurgents.

Add to this the fact that those regional forces that had supported – reluctantly in the case of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI – the toppling of Omar’s regime are no longer on side. Iran has been alienated by the sanctions and US-EU hostility (itself the result of unremitting Israeli pressure); the Northern Alliance is a busted flush, its leaders busy making money like the Karzai family; and the Pakistani military never broke off contact with the Taliban.

So, lithium reserves notwithstanding, it has become more and more difficult to sustain the Nato presence in the country. The 42 countries engaged in the occupation can no longer help the embarrassing marionette in Kabul to dance a good show. And a quick-fix election organised at high cost by western PR firms, essentially for the benefit of western public opinion, no longer does the trick.read more

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