Author Topic: Taliban? What Taliban? And Other Thoughts About Peace In Afghanistan  (Read 601 times)

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Taliban? What Taliban? And Other Thoughts About Peace In Afghanistan

Source: Taliban? What Taliban? And Other Thoughts About Peace In Afghanistan

By David Pugliese

Defence Watch


Ryan C. Crocker, the former American ambassador to Afghanistan, has had some interesting things to say recently about the war/and situation in that country.

But for some reason his comments didn’t get a lot of play in Canada (or from what I saw any ways….it could be that the Canadian public has had its fill of Afghanistan)

The New York Times interviewed Crocker on July 22 in Kabul, a few days before he retired from his post. The paper posted the comments in its “At War” blog and as the NY Times’ Alissa J. Rubin noted in her article/post, Crocker has had a significant career in the U.S. government – he had been a Foreign Service officer in the State Department for more than 40 years, and served extensively in the Arab world. He has been ambassador to Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Iraq and Pakistan. He has also been deputy chief of the Afghan mission and ten years ago was the diplomat who reopened the American Embassy in Kabul after the Taliban regime fell.

Alissa J. Rubin’s full questions can be seen here:

But Defence Watch has highlighted a few of the more interesting ones. For instance, Crocker was asked by the Times about the “likelihood of a peace deal with the Taliban?”

Crocker’s response: “I am increasingly persuaded there is no ‘the Taliban.’ I think it is an increasingly factionalized movement, some of whose members stand totally against any form of reconciliation and others who want to pursue it. If a reconciliation comes, it’s not going to be a grand bargain, I don’t think. It’s going to be piecemeal: individuals here, individuals there. I consider that a realistic possibility. I don’t think you’ll ever get the Haqqanis or Mullah Omar and those closest to him.”

The other interesting question Crocker was asked had to do with the likelihood of a “soft partition” after the NATO withdrawal in 2014. Such a partition would see Taliban influential in the south, warlords dominating the north and west, criminal families influencing the east, and government control primarily in and around Kabul Province (which some would argue is already the situation).

Here is (part of) what Crocker said to that (the rest can be read at the NY Times):

“The key determinant here is the [2014] election, and of course everything that runs up to it. Look, anything is possible here; you know my hackneyed line that an extreme long-range prediction is a week from Thursday. But what I see going on talking to the president, talking to other officials, talking to political leaders of all stripes, persuasions and ethnicities suggests several things. First, the northerners want to play significantly in Kabul. A soft partition or otherwise could happen, but I think for the major northern political figures, that’s not where their minds are. It’s figuring out how they are best postured for the post-2014 administration and how to be part of it, and some have said so explicitly in conversations with us.”