Pentagon Begins To Draw Taliban/Al Qaeda Distinction
Sometimes you just don’t want to wait for the full Pentagon transcript.
I just got an email summary from the Pentagon’s in-house press shop of spokesman Geoff Morrell’s briefing. In it, he issues what I think is the first official administration confirmation that the U.S. will support the emerging Karzai-Taliban peace talks. Check it out.
The United States will support the Afghan government in efforts to step up its reconciliation with the Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan, but not with Al Qaeda or those who support it, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters today.
“They are an independent, sovereign state,” Morrell said of the Afghans’ stated interest in escalating reconciliation efforts. “If that’s what they see is in their best interest, we fully support it, and we’ll do whatever we can to help facilitate it.”
So there we have it: the first distinction drawn by the Bush administration between the Taliban and Al Qaeda. It took more than seven years and nearly 5,000 U.S. troop deaths, but the administration has now entirely reversed President Bush’s 9/11 vow to “make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
Interestingly, Morrell specifically excluded Mullah Omar from any U.S.-supported deal:
But what if Hamid Karzai disagrees? And what if the price of getting Osama bin Laden or destroying the safe havens in Pakistan is to cut a deal with Omar?