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Books and Documents

War on Terror

The predicate for any acceptable peace agreement with the Taliban ought to be the organisation’s total, unequivocal break with international terrorism. It was, after all, two decades ago, when the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, that its sheltering of Al Qaida made possible the 9/11 terrorist attacks...

 

Most Americans have had little reason to think their country is even at war. And lucky them because war is hell. But this disconnect helps explain why the country’s civil-military relations are as distant as they are....

 

Negotiations to end wars can have the perverse effect of escalating them: sometimes, combatants strive to gain leverage at the table by showing strength on the ground. As the Doha talks proceeded, the conflict in Afghanistan became the deadliest in the world. ...

 

 “Pakistan, by joining the US after 9/11, committed one of the biggest blunders. 70,000 Pakistanis died in this. Some economists say we lost $150 billion, some say $200 billion. On top of it, we were blamed by the US for not winning in Afghanistan.” ...

 

“Of course, our future is tied to it—any deal that would have been signed or agreed to would have altered our future. So we naturally wanted to know all the details.”...

 

Scholars have called landmines and other explosive remnants of war “imperial debris” – the detritus, in particular, of imperial America and its expansive global military footprint, including its forever wars around this planet...

 

“To prevent losses, God forbid, from being incurred by our fellow compatriots, they must stay away from gatherings and rallies that could become potential targets.”…

 

Airstrikes and offensives by the American and Afghan government forces on one hand, and Taliban offensives and attacks on the other, have increased at the same rate as progress in the negotiations. ...

 

The Taliban promised Washington during months of negotiations that the United States would never again be attacked from Afghan soil. Such a pledge would have included al-Qaida, which planned the 9/11 attacks from inside Afghanistan....

 

When United States President Donald Trump joins Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 50,000-strong public rally in Houston next week, it will showcase the strength of the US-India relationship. But the powerful symbolism should not blind us to the divergent US and Indian interests in India’s neighbourhood, especially the Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) region. Indeed, before the rally, Trump will likely get the India trade deal that he has sought...

 

The Islamists are one-time democrats and once elected, they show their fascist colours under the garb of implementing a medieval set of values. Don’t we have the example of Muslim brotherhood’s Morsi?...

 

Afghanistan was bombed and invaded because of 9/11. I was there from the start, even before 9/11. On August 20, 2001, I interviewed commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the “Lion of the Panjshir,” who told me about an “unholy alliance” of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the ISI (Pakistani intel)....

 

First, the US needs to recognise the Taliban for what it is: A deeply unpopular theocracy with brutal norms of behaviour (particularly against women and girls) that aren’t going to change anytime soon. Instead of using the Ronald Reagan line about the Soviet Union, “trust, but verify”, with the Taliban, Washington must “verify, then trust”....

 

However, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan made him — like most other learned college-goers of that era — take a detour and join the Taliban under Mullah Omar, the one-eyed emir of the militia who believed God had selected him to prepare pious Muslims for afterlife glory....

 

“If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway,” Trump stated. “How many more decades are they willing to fight?”...

 

They have largely shifted from outright coercion to “creeping influence” over Afghans through services and state activities. They are often part of the local “social fabric,” and they view themselves as preparing to govern the country....

 

Trump’s announcement came just before a week of religious and political events that could be targets for further violence. Monday is the anniversary of the death of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the anti-Taliban militia leader who was assassinated in 2001....

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Taliban have been very close. In 2010, when Taliban set up a shadow government in Afghanistan’s Northern Province, members of IMU were part of this cabinet...

 

The steady watering-down of American demands is a worrying sign, in their eyes. Whereas America once insisted that the Taliban would need to negotiate directly with the Afghan government on a political settlement for the country...

 

Referring to Trump’s directive, on July 29, 2019, Pompeo disclosed, “That’s my directive from the president of the United States. He’s been unambiguous: end the endless wars, drawdown, reduce.”...

 

"We’re like policemen. We’re not fighting a war. If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. But I don’t want to kill 10 million people. Afghanistan could be wiped off the face of the Earth. I don’t want to go that route.”...

 

The central figure in the narrative is Zarqawi. Born Ahmed Fadil al Nazal al Khalayleh in 1966 in the industrial city of Zarqa—hence his nom de guerre Zarqawi—he was a petty criminal and drug dealer until he was jailed in 1987….

 

With an eye on his re-election prospects, the Trump administration is in haste to reach a peace deal with the Taliban. Reminiscent of the Vietnam negotiations, the US, ostensibly trying to save the remnants of the Kabul regime...

 

The increasing spate of attacks in Afghanistan by the Taliban once again highlights the grim security situation and extremist group’s true intentions, amid the seventh round of peace talks between the United States and the Taliban in Qatar....

 

 “I call it [Afghanistan] the Harvard of terrorists.” Harvard University is the pride of the USA, and wished-for destinations of scholars. Rationale for bracketing it with terrorism evades common sense....

 


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