Friday, September 10, 2010

Is the U.S. Offering the Taliban Control of Southern Afghanistan?

Hard as it is to swallow, Asia Times, claims negotiations are underway between the U.S. and Taliban from which the Americans may cede control of the Pashtun homeland in southern Afghanistan to the rebels.

The paper reports that the Taliban are in talks with Pakistan officials who relay their comments to the Saudis who then laise with the Americans.

"The initial talks have covered two main areas - the issue of about 60 Pakistanis in the US's Guantanamo detention facility, and al-Qaeda.

"A delegation of Pakistani officials will soon visit the Guantanamo Bay prison to personally interview the Pakistani prisoners. [Their release] would be a goodwill gesture from the American side, and also set the stage for negotiations between the Taliban and Washington," the Pakistani official told ATol.

Another element touched on in the talks is the American demand that it maintain a military presence in northern Afghanistan, while agreeing to give control of the south to the Taliban. The Taliban do not agree with this - they want a complete US withdrawal. This remains a point of major disagreement."

Conspicuously absent from these indirect negotiations is the Kabul government of Hamid Karzai.  And then there's the question of al-Qaeda.
The US has always insisted that any future Taliban government would have to expel al-Qaeda from Afghanistan. The Taliban agree on this, but want al-Qaeda to be given "honorable treatment".
In view of the al-Qaeda problem - which has the potential to derail any peace efforts - [Pakistan army chief, General Ashfak Parvez] Kiani recently went to Riyadh and spent five days in discussions with King Abdullah, intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz and other officials. The central theme was how to rehabilitate bin Laden and other Saudi citizens, beside arranging refugee status for other al-Qaeda members. Bin Laden was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in the 1990s.

The director general of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, was sent to Washington regarding a proposal for al-Qaeda to shift from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia.

It beggars belief that either the Saudis or the Americans would tolerate some sort of amnesty under which bin Laden and al-Qaeda relocate to the oil-rich kingdom.   The slightest hint that Washington would entertain a deal for the man the American people most want dead would be political suicide for the Democrats in the November mid-terms.   The suggestion makes you wonder who planted the story and why.

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