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Sunday, December 5

Amrullah Saleh sets the record straight on Taliban imposter, and the question that haunts

Of course this report got no play in the USA:
Taliban impostor warnings ignored by Afghan leaders, says former spy chief
by Jon Boone
(U.K.) Guardian, November 28, 2010

Desperate for a peace deal with the Taliban, officials dismissed security advice over bogus go-between

Hamid Karzai's desperation for a "Good Friday agreement for Afghanistan" led officials to ignore repeated warnings from their own spy chief that they should not trust a man who orchestrated a humiliating face-to-face meeting between the Afghan president and a shopkeeper who pretended to be the Taliban's second most powerful leader.

Amrullah Saleh, the former head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan's equivalent of MI5, said his agency first vetted the man, who claimed to be a representative of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, one of the highest-ranking figures in the Taliban, in mid-2008, but rejected him after he was unable to prove his credentials.

However, the go-between, who said he was a Taliban leader from Kandahar called Muhammad Aminullah, subsequently approached the interior minister, Hanif Atmar, the following year and was enthusiastically embraced by an Afghan government desperate for a breakthrough in peace talks.

Saleh, a highly regarded administrator who was sacked by Karzai earlier this year, said all his warnings were ignored. "I tried time and again to convince my colleagues in the ministry and subsequently at the palace that he is not a genuine representative of anybody," he told the Observer.

The rare public statement by Afghanistan's former top spy contradicted attempts yesterday by the Afghan government to deny that "Mansour" had ever held high-level meetings in Kabul. It also further undermines claims by the Afghan government that MI6 was entirely to blame for the fiasco. [...]
There's more in the report that calls for close attention but I want to turn now to another report, one that throws additional light on Saleh's trials as he tried to talk sense into men pursuing a mirage.

Note the date of the cable under discussion in the following report: January of this year. Yet at that time (and up to this day) there were elements in Washington, including elements in the U.S. military, which continued to insist that Pakistan's military command and ISI had turned over a new leaf. The willful blindness of these factions led the Obama administration to push for an equally blind pursuit of reconciliation with the Taliban.

The question that haunts me is just how far the U.S. is willing to go in the attempt to discredit Karzai's warnings about the intentions of Pakistan's military. I suspect it's a question that also haunts Karzai -- and Saleh:
Pak Army and ISI continue to support Afghan Taliban: Karzai

Press Trust Of India
December 3, 2010

(Washington) Over a month after the new Af-Pak policy was unveiled, Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned the US that no success could be achieved in the war against terrorism [while] the Pakistan Army and ISI continued to support Afghan Taliban. Welcoming a delegation of US lawmakers, including Republican John McCain, Karzai told them that the improvement in the overall bilateral relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan was held back by the Army and ISI who continue to help the Afghan Taliban.

This was written by US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry ... in a secret cable dated January 10, 2010, which was released by WikiLeaks. President Barack Obama unveiled his Af-Pak policy in December, 2009. The United States, which has charged the Wikileaks of indulging in a criminal act by stealing and releasing these cables, has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of these documents.

Karzai said he wants to engage more and have US support in doing so, since "the war won't end easily without Pakistani cooperation", the cable said.

"He was pessimistic about the internal situation, as was his intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh. Saleh noted that Pakistan's energy sector was in decline and that discontent in Pashtun areas was higher than it had been in the volatile 1960s and 1970s," the cable said.

Karzai also said his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari is using Baloch nationalists as his base of support. "Saleh predicted that neither the army nor Nawaz Sharif would bring Zardari's term to an abrupt end," the Ambassador wrote.

Explaining his reintegration approach, Karzai noted that the peace process and reintegration efforts help in the fight against the Taliban by working with those who are willing to come back, especially the "foot soldiers".

Reconciliation would extend to more senior level Taliban (not Mullah Omar, he clarified) who are not linked to Al Qaeda, "some of whom are willing" to talk. Lots of contacts are taking place, Karzai said, but no common reconciliation policy has emerged, the cable said.

"McCain noted that for this to be successful the other side should be convinced they can't win and this should probably be timed to work with the new influx of troops now underway.

"He agreed that those fighting for reasons other than ideology should be helped to return and that the fight should continue against the ideologically-motivated Taliban, stressing the importance of educating the country that both efforts were ongoing at the same time," the cable said.

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