May 21, 2009
New York Times

U.S. Pullout a Condition in Afghan Peace Talks

by Dexter Filkins

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. . . .


Enver Masud, "Bin Laden Not Wanted for 9/11: The 'FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11'. Vice President Cheney says, 'We've never made the case, or argued the case, that somehow Osama Bin Laden was directly involved in 9/11'," The Wisdom Fund, June 8, 2006

Declan Walsh and Richard Norton Taylor, "Afghanistan Mission Close to Failing," Guardian, February 29, 2008

Larry Everest, "Afghanistan: A War for Empire,", October 17, 2008

John Barry and Evan Thomas, "Afghanistan: Obama's Vietnam," Newsweek, January 9, 2009

"Afghanistan, Pakistan: Obama's War," The Wisdom Fund, March 28, 2009

[Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal directed the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations (JSO) Command which operates special teams in overseas assassinations.--James Petras, "Obama's Animal Farm: Bigger, Bloodier Wars Equal Peace and Justice,", May 17, 2009]

[Zalmay Khalilzad, who was President George W. Bush's ambassador to Afghanistan, could assume a powerful, unelected position inside the Afghan government . . .

American and British officials expressed concern that any belief that the West was behind the plan would harm its chances inside Afghanistan.--Helene Cooper, "Ex-U.S. Envoy May Take Key Role in Afghan Government," New York Times, May 19, 2009]

Enver Masud, "Zalmay Khalilzad: Neocon to Serve as De Facto Leader of Afghanistan?,", May 22, 2009

Simon Jenkins, "Obama Must Call Off This Folly Before Afghanistan Becomes His Vietnam," Guardian, June 25, 2009

VIDEO: "John Pilger on Honduras, Iran, Gaza, the Corporate Media, Obama's Wars and Resisting the American Empire,", July 6, 2009

[ . . . the tired claim that one of the chief objectives of the military occupation of Afghanistan is to liberate Afghan women is not only absurd, it is offensive. . . .

"We ask for an end to the occupation of Afghanistan and a stop to such tragic war crimes."--Sonali Kolhatkar and Mariam Rawi, "Why Is a Leading Feminist Organization Lending Its Name to Support Escalation in Afghanistan?,", July 8, 2009]

[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

VIDEO: "Rethink Afghanistan,"

back button