December 26, 2011, Khaama Press (Afghanistan):
Former Afghan Intelligence Chief Amrullah Saleh insists [on consideration for] the views of the Afghan people during the peace talks process as majority of the Afghans both in northern regions and southern regions have negative views regarding the Taliban group.The Pakistani ex-intelligence official spoke to Rodriguez on condition of anonymity, of course, but there you have it: a tacit admission from a knowledgeable Pakistani source that Amrullah Saleh has been speaking the truth all along. The Taliban are simply a "group" as the Khamaa report terms them, a group that does not enjoy support among any of Afghanistan's non-Pasthun ethnic groups and finds support from only about 10 percent of Pashtuns. (Note that the Pakistani source didn't distinguish between Afghan and Pakistani Pashtuns when he claimed that 90 percent didn't support the Taliban.)
While speaking during the inauguration ceremony of the Dawat-e-Islami foundation Mr. Saleh said the Afghan government and the United States of America cannot represent the anti-Taliban Afghan civilians to initiate peace talks.
He also warned that there will no significant achievements if the demands of the Afghans who are against the Taliban group are [not] considered.
The recent objections by the opposition parties of the Afghan government come amid growing efforts by the United States of America to start peace dialogues with the Taliban group.
And one could argue that the 10 percent is largely a creation of Pakistan's ISI/military -- at least that's the perception of what is probably a majority of Afghans and it's certainly Amrullah's perception based on information he obtained while head of Afghanistan's intelligence service.
So what is the justification for the United States and its NATO partners to claim that Taliban must be included in formal peace negotiations and that only a political settlement will bring peace to Afghanistan? What is the justification for claiming that only a 'political' solution can work to end the fighting in Afghanistan?
The justification can't be that Hamid Karzai wants Taliban included in negotiations. That's because it's open knowledge Karzai made the assertion only under the most extreme pressure from the U.S. administration, which caused him to fear for his life. He was afraid that the U.S. government would order his assassination if he didn't agree to negotiate with Taliban; indeed, it was this fear that led to Amrullah Saleh's resignation from the NDS and Karzai accepting the resignation. Karzai refused to believe evidence that Amrullah brought him that a terrorist attack on a national peace assembly, which Karzai had been attending at the time of the attack, was the work of Taliban; he told Saleh it was the CIA in an attempt to kill him.
Not to make light of Karzai's plight and his fear, which I think came to border on the paranoid, but he grew some spine only when he was caught in a pincer movement -- caught between the Obama administration's demand that he 'talk' with the Taliban and strident demands from powerful opposition factions in Afghanistan that he make no concessions to the Taliban.
If anyone trys to claim that Karzai wasn't being pushed by the Obama administration to make concessions: just an agreement to talk with the Taliban before the group's terrorist rampage in Afghanistan halted was in itself forcing him into a huge concession to the Taliban.
The concession has backfired at every turn and contributed to deaths of American, British and other NATO military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan, not to mention deaths of Afghan troops and civilians. Yet this situation was rationalized by General David Petraeus while he headed the NATO effort in Afghanistan on the argument that many times in the history of warfare one side has had to negotiate with forces that are inflicting severe casualties on them.
Petraeus must have known at the time he was called before Congress to explain the U.S. decision to negotiate with Taliban that it was Pakistan's military, not any Taliban leaders, which had power to make a negotiated agreement stick. However, it's only within the past few months that anyone in official Washington has been willing to publicly acknowledge the true situation with Pakistan. That's because telling the truth would be in effect an admission that the U.S. counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan was absurd from the start. I repeat, absurd, in the manner of the man who searched on the street for keys he knew he'd lost in his house because the light for searching was better outdoors. It's absurd because there never was an insurgency to speak of in Afghanistan and there isn't one to this day; there's a proxy war being fought by Pakistan's military against NATO forces and the Afghan government. I do not believe there has been a time when the NATO command and the civilian leaders it reports to have not known this.
And while it's true that governments have had to negotiate with insurgents that are killing a government's troops, Petraeus's attempt to Vietnamize the situation in Afghanistan was sophistry because the two situations were completely different. Only a very small number of Afghans support the Taliban and their terrorism, and only those Afghans who work for Pakistan's interests support Pakistan making proxy war on Afghanistan.
Petraeus's explanation fell apart when it became public knowledge that Osama bin Laden had been living in Pakistan under circumstances that as much clinched he was there as a guest of Pakistan's military. So the new, improved rationalization floated in Washington was that Pakistan had to be given a seat at the negotiating table, which caused Amrullah Saleh and many other Afghans to put their foot down.
If State or the Pentagon or anyone in the Obama Administration wants to defend their tactics by arguing that the U.S. still needs Pakistan's cooperation in killing al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, I'll return to Alex Rodriguez's report:
Current and former U.S. officials say the CIA has decided to temporarily suspend so-called signature [drone] strikes — missile attacks against fighters and others whose actions suggest support for the Taliban and other insurgent groups — in an effort to mend relations with Pakistan.I doubt the Central Intelligence Agency decides anything on its own in this very delicate matter; it's surely acting on orders from the White House. But so much for a key feature of Obama's "War on al Qaeda," as the most recent National Intelligence Estimate terms the War on Terror. I've noted before that I think the drone war in Pakistani territory is a bad idea and that there's a better way to bag al Qaeda in Pakistan, but the point is that at the first stiff breeze coming from Rawalpindi the Obama administration has suspended its major tactic against al Qaeda fighters holed up in Pakistan. And Rawalpindi knows what this means.