What Kind of Negotiations Should There Be Between Karzai and The Taliban?

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Friday, October 10, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Peter Bergen asks a great question: Since we’re seeing movement toward Karzai-Taliban negotiations, what kind of negotiations should there be?

Should everything be on the table? Who should be brought in and who should be left out?

Nir Rosen: “A lot of these former Taliban and Hekmatyar commanders say use local mullahs” as intermediators with the Karzai government. “You have to use someone respected by both sides… everyone seems to believe that local tribes, local mullahs… and the Saudis should have” a role as brokers as well.

Seth Jones of RAND: So many components to the insurgency. “I think the better response is what’s been historical in Afghanistan: negotiating with local power.” Tribes, jirgas, etc. It’s difficult, “but if anyone has the ability to enforce agreements on the ground, it’s these sorts of institutions.”

Christine Fair: Pakistani negotiations with the Taliban have been “ratifications of defeat on the ground.” Without “any ability to verify” Taliban compliance. They were a joke, a separate peace, legitimizing Taliban leaders. In the tribal areas, “the so-called jirgas often held up as a pathway to peace have been fundamentally eviscerated” and replaced by religious and Taliban figures. “I’m dubious, especially in the tribal areas,” that negotiating with the Taliban in Pakistan could be productive, “since their goals are antithetical to the state.”

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Comments

3 Comments

Stan Wright
Comment posted November 28, 2008 @ 6:40 pm

What's usually ignored in the US is that when we say “Taliban”, what we're talking about is the political vehicle of large parts of the Pashtuns, the dominant tribe of southern Afghanistan. The Taliban was their vehicle, and in that region, tribe trumps ideology and has for millennia.

The other thing that tribe trumps is government. We persist in pretending that Afghanistan is a nation at war with an ideology. That's not what's happening to afghan eyes. To them, it's one more round in the thousands of years to tribal power struggles. As long as our ideological blinders prevent us from even seeing what's happening as it is, not what our ideology needs it to be, we're going to go on failing.

Karzai will be talking about splitting up the power pie. Who's going to rule which districts. Who's going to get paid, and how much. Other markers include the heroin trade, access to 'development' funds, and lip service to which alien model of government. Just as the present Afghan 'government' carefully laundered the warlords of the Northern Alliance by naming them regional governors, etc., so too is the Taliban going to have to be laundered in a similar manner.


Stan Wright
Comment posted November 29, 2008 @ 2:40 am

What's usually ignored in the US is that when we say “Taliban”, what we're talking about is the political vehicle of large parts of the Pashtuns, the dominant tribe of southern Afghanistan. The Taliban was their vehicle, and in that region, tribe trumps ideology and has for millennia.

The other thing that tribe trumps is government. We persist in pretending that Afghanistan is a nation at war with an ideology. That's not what's happening to afghan eyes. To them, it's one more round in the thousands of years to tribal power struggles. As long as our ideological blinders prevent us from even seeing what's happening as it is, not what our ideology needs it to be, we're going to go on failing.

Karzai will be talking about splitting up the power pie. Who's going to rule which districts. Who's going to get paid, and how much. Other markers include the heroin trade, access to 'development' funds, and lip service to which alien model of government. Just as the present Afghan 'government' carefully laundered the warlords of the Northern Alliance by naming them regional governors, etc., so too is the Taliban going to have to be laundered in a similar manner.


Swat: Pakistan Ratifies Defeat « The Stupidest Man on Earth
Pingback posted February 17, 2009 @ 4:38 am

[...] The fact is that the Pakistani government has just ceded to its mortal enemy control of a swathe of land that, unlike the country’s other troublespots, is neither a tribal area nor borders Afghanistan. I understand the need to stop the killing, but this will not stop it. I understand the need to check the Taleban’s advance, but this will not check it. It’s not a peace agreement; it’s just another ratification of defeat on the ground. [...]


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