Safe Mode: On
Taliban Senior Commander admits they cannot win the war, and also says "al-Qaida is a 'plague' to Afghanistan''
 Part of channel(s): Afghanistan (current event)

Taliban commander admits: we cannot win war and al-Qaida is a 'plague'

Interview: senior Taliban commander admits insurgents must seek settlement with other political forces in Afghanistan


One of the Taliban's most senior commanders has admitted the insurgents cannot win the war in Afghanistan
and that capturing Kabul is "a very distant prospect", obliging them to
seek a settlement with other political forces in the country.In a
startlingly frank interview in Thursday's New Statesman, the commander –
described as a Taliban veteran, a confidant of the leadership, and a
former Guantánamo inmate – also uses the strongest language yet from a
senior figure to distance the Afghan rebels from al-Qaida."At
least 70% of the Taliban are angry at al-Qaida. Our people consider
al-Qaida to be a plague that was sent down to us by the heavens," the
commander says. "To tell the truth, I was relieved at the death of Osama
[bin Laden]. Through his policies, he destroyed Afghanistan. If he
really believed in jihad he should have gone to Saudi Arabia and done
jihad there, rather than wrecking our country."

The New Statesman does not identify the Taliban commander, referring to him only as Mawlvi
but the interview was conducted by Michael Semple, a former UN envoy to
Kabul during the Taliban era who has maintained contacts with members
of its leadership, and served on occasion as a diplomatic back-channel
to the insurgents.Semple, who is now at the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy
at Harvard, said the commander's identity had to be protected because
the Taliban was highly sensitive about unauthorised pronouncements on
the movement's behalf, but he added there was no doubt about Mawlvi's
role within the movement."I maintain dialogue over time rather
than have one-off contacts so I know who Mawlvi is and I know everyone
he is talking to," he said.Semple said that speaking unofficially
allowed Mawlvi to stray from the rigidly controlled Taliban "party
line" and voice the unvarnished views of a pragmatic wing of the
leadership, which Semple describes as "making a serious bid to shape the
strategy of the movement".

Mawlvi's scepticism over his own side's military prospects is in particularly striking contrast to the
consistently triumphalist output of official Taliban statements. "It is
in the nature of war that both sides dream of victory. But the balance
of power in the Afghan conflict is obvious. It would take some kind of
divine intervention for the Taliban to win this war," he says."The
Taliban capturing Kabul is a very distant prospect. Any Taliban leader
expecting to be able to capture Kabul is making a grave mistake.
Nevertheless, the leadership also knows that it cannot afford to
acknowledge this weakness. To do so would undermine the morale of
Taliban personnel. The leadership knows the truth – that they cannot
prevail over the power they confront," Mawlvi says.As a result,
he says that the Taliban has had to shelve its dream of re-establishing
the Islamic emirate it set up when it was in power from 1996 to 2001.
"Any side involved in a conflict like this has decided to fight for
power. If they fall short of achieving national power, they have to
settle for functioning as an organised party within the country," he

He is scathing about President Hamid Karzai,who the Taliban has consistently derided as a US puppet. "There is little point in talking to Kabul. Real authority rests with the
Americans," he says. "The only other serious political force in
Afghanistan is that of the Northern Alliance" – a Tajik-led coalition
that led the resistance to Taliban rule and is now a powerful player in
Kabul.David Miliband, who was an early champion of talking to the
Taliban when he was foreign secretary, said the interview represented
an opportunity that should be seized. "This landmark interview shows
both the need for and difficulties in serious discussion with the
Taliban about the future of Afghanistan," Miliband, who published the
interview as the guest editor of the Statesman, argued."The
candour and clarity of the remarks about al-Qaida, Nato and the Afghan
government show that we are dealing with a sophisticated and long-term
presence in the country that cannot be wished away," he said. "With
10,000 British troops in the country it is vital that those talks are
taken forward now. Afghanistan cannot become the forgotten war."Earlier
this year, the Taliban sent representatives to Qatar to act as a
political office for negotiations with the US. However, the talks soon
stalled largely because of resistance to such contacts from Karzai, who
felt he had been excluded, and reluctance in Washington to authorise the
transfer of five Taliban prisoners in Guantánamo, something the Taliban
had been led to believe had been agreed in preliminary talks as a
confidence-building measure.

The Taliban officially suspended the contacts in March but kept its envoys in Qatar. It also sent a
delegation last weekend to a reconciliation conference in Kyoto. In the article, Mawlvi signals that the Taliban's pragmatic wing at least remains committed to the talks."The world has long been keen to portray the Taliban as wild and uncivilised, ignorant of international norms and uninterested in government. Nato has long claimed that it wants peace but the Taliban are an obstacle who refuse to break links with al-Qaida. The Taliban wanted to turn the tables on Nato and show
who are the real obstacles to peace," he says.

Mawlvi maintains the Taliban interest in negotiations goes beyond the immediate desire to
get its men out of Guantánamo. If that had been the case, they would
not have bothered going to Qatar but would simply have established a
commission for prisoner exchange, he said.

Semple says it is hard to judge the influence of pragmatists such as Mawlvi in
comparison to more radical jihadists grouped around the overall leader,
Mullah Omar. Mawlvi's outspoken contempt for al-Qaida conflicts with evidence found
in Osama Bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad pointing to close working
relationship between Omar and al-Qaida's leadership in orchestrating
attacks on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Semple argues that greater western commitment to talks would help the movement disentangle
itself from al-Qaida. Mawlvi dismisses what he says are the few hundred
al-Qaida fighters still in the region as irrelevant, saying the Taliban
had not made a formal break only because it feared "it might alienate
some Islamist constituencies".It is also unclear whether the
largely Pakistan-based Taliban leadership still has control over junior
field commanders in Afghanistan, who have become progressively younger
and more radical as a result of an intensive campaign of assassination
spearheaded by US and British special forces over recent years."In
truth, no one knows whether the Taliban leadership has the authority to
make a peace deal," Mawlvi says. "But the same question could well be
asked about Karzai, except that, with regard to Kabul, we know that
authority is in the hands of someone else."

Added: Jul-10-2012 Occurred On: Jul-10-2012
By: qwerty4242
Regional News, Afghanistan
Tags: taliban, failures, taleban, talib, taleb, leader, afghan, afghanistan, ANA, NATO, soldier, afgan, afganistan, war, 2012, commander, al, qaida, qaeda, losers
Location: Afghanistan (load item map)
Views: 9830 | Comments: 143 | Votes: 3 | Favorites: 2 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 3
You need to be registered in order to add comments! Register HERE