Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The Asia Times says the U.S. is desperately looking for an exit strategy in Afghanistan -- and a big part of the strategy is working with members of the Taliban:

With Afghanistan daily slipping into more anarchy and chaos, United States authorities, aware that they are unlikely to ever bring stability to the country by military means, continue to explore political avenues that ultimately could pave the way for them to withdraw from the country.

First there were the talks at the Pakistan Air Force base in Quetta with "moderate" elements of the Taliban (which immediately failed due to the US insistence on the sidelining of Taliban leader Mullah Omar). Then came the formation of Jaishul Muslim, a formal grouping of lesser Taliban lights (which failed even to enter into Afghanistan), and moves to pry some of the more powerful mujahideen commanders from the anti-US resistance movement.

And last week, former Taliban foreign minister Mullah Abdul Wakeel Mutawakil was released from US custody in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, where he had been in detention since handing himself over to the US in February last year.....

...Mutawakil ... is now expected, with help from the Pakistanis, to be given a senior position in the local government in Kandahar, the former spiritual headquarters of the Taliban.

At the same time, options are being explored to recruit other powerful former Taliban ministers into the central cabinet in key positions, including that of defense....

The story goes on to say that the U.S. is trying to "flip" Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani, a prominent mujahideen who "gave up his high position in the Taliban regime to take up arms as a guerrilla against the US-led invading army." (Hey, wouldn't that make him an "enemy combatant" if we had him in custody? Sorry, never mind.)

If this is really what the Bush administration intends to do, it's awfully convenient that many Americans are now angrier at Saddam Hussein for the Taliban-supported al-Qaeda attacks of 9/11 than they are at al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

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