Our troops will pull out in 2014 knowing that the Taliban will be part of a future Afghan government
By Telegraph View
7:46PM BST 10 Sep 2012
The length of the campaign in Afghanistan is a vivid measure of its cost. When British soldiers finally withdraw at the end of 2014, the fighting will have lasted for 13 years, making our Fourth Afghan War the longest foreign conflict this country has waged since the days of Napoleon. After so much toil and sacrifice, the Government owes it to the nation to acknowledge some harsh realities.
No one doubts the achievement of our forces, along with their American and coalition allies. Until 2001, Afghanistan served as the global headquarters of
al-Qaeda and the location for training camps turning out thousands of terrorists. All that has come to an end, with the camps razed and al-Qaeda eliminated as a functioning force, at least within Afghanistan’s borders. Our soldiers can take pride in their part in removing a threat to the security of the West.
Along the way, they have underwritten the birth of an elected government in Kabul and allowed at least three million girls to return to the schools from which the Taliban excluded them. It should never be forgotten that fighters loyal to this vicious movement still burn down classrooms, and cast acid in the faces of girls who want nothing more than an education.
That makes it harder still to acknowledge that there will be no outright military victory over the Taliban. Even the finest counter-insurgency force could not eliminate a movement so deeply rooted among the Pashtuns of southern and eastern Afghanistan. So a negotiated settlement is inevitable – and the Taliban will inevitably play a part.
Afghan government takes charge of Bagram military prison
10 Sep 2012[/*]
Prison transferred to Afghan control
10 Sep 2012[/*]
Afghan government takes over Bagram prison
10 Sep 2012[/*]
Taliban 'prepared to work with US on security'
10 Sep 2012[/*][/list]
The good news, according to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), is that senior Taliban commanders acknowledge a harsh truth of their own, namely that outright victory is also beyond their power. To achieve a negotiated end to the war, they are apparently willing to renounce al-Qaeda and even accept a continued American military presence after 2014. The Taliban figures interviewed by RUSI are also prepared to drop their medieval, obscurantist opposition to female education. Whether these “moderates” speak for the Taliban as a whole is open to question. Even if they do, other extremist groups such as the Haqqani network could try to sabotage any settlement. And the price for a deal with the Taliban would be the movement’s inclusion in a future Afghan government.
The Prime Minister should start preparing the public for the unpalatable agreement that will have to be struck by 2014. The men we fought for 13 years are likely to have real political power. The best we can hope for is that Afghanistan will be governable, and that the country will no longer be a threat to the West.
Tags: Afghaistan, Occupation, by, US, NATO, Taliban, Pakistan, terrorist, Punjabi, ISI, Al, Qaeda
Location: Afghanistan (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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