Leaders of the Taliban and other armed groups battling the Afghan government
are talking to intermediaries about a potential peace agreement, with
initial demands focused on a timetable for a withdrawal of American troops,
according to Afghan leaders here and in Pakistan.
The talks, if not the withdrawal proposals, are being supported by the
Afghan government. The Obama administration, which has publicly declared its
desire to coax "moderate" Taliban fighters away from armed struggle, says it
is not involved in the discussions and will not be until the Taliban agree
to lay down their arms. But nor is it trying to stop the talks, and Afghan
officials believe they have tacit support from the Americans.
The discussions have so far produced no agreements, since the insurgents
appear to be insisting that any deal include an American promise to pull out
- at the very time that the Obama administration is sending more combat
troops to help reverse the deteriorating situation on the battlefield.
Indeed, with 20,000 additional troops on the way, American commanders seem
determined to inflict greater pain on the Taliban first, to push them into
negotiations and extract better terms. And most of the initial demands are
nonstarters for the Americans in any case.
Even so, the talks are significant because they suggest how a political
settlement may be able to end the eight-year-old war, and how such
negotiations may proceed. . . .
The first demand was an immediate pullback of American and other foreign
forces to their bases, followed by a cease-fire and a total withdrawal from
the country over the next 18 months. Then the current government would be
replaced by a transitional government made up of a range of Afghan leaders,
including those of the Taliban and other insurgents. Americans and other
foreign soldiers would be replaced with a peacekeeping force drawn from
predominantly Muslim nations, with a guarantee from the insurgent groups
that they would not attack such a force. Nationwide elections would follow
after the Western forces left. . . .
[In the constitution it forbids those guilty of war crimes from running for
high office. Yet Karzai has named two notorious warlords, Fahim and Khalili,
as his running mates for the upcoming presidential election. . . .
Some say that if foreign troops leave Afghanistan will descend into civil
war. But what about the civil war and catastrophe of today? The longer this
occupation continues, the worse the civil war will be.--Malalai Joya, "The big lie of Afghanistan,"
Guardian, July 25, 2009