2007 Called. It wants its Musa Qala Back

by Joshua Foust on 7/27/2009 · 5 comments

So the government of Afghanistan has agreed to a “truce” with the Taliban in Badghis province, just to the northeast of Herat.

The Taliban have pledged not to attack voting centres and to hand key areas to government forces, officials say. There has been no word from the militants.

The government says it hopes to replicate the deal in other provinces.

The moves comes as the UK is emphasising that more must be done to engage moderate members of the Taliban.

I don’t know, that doesn’t sound very familiar at all, like it hasn’t been tried before. The BBC says the province is fairly non-violent, while Bill Roggio argues it is a Taliban stronghold. Whom to believe?

In either case, I really wish the government—any government, considering Britain’s abysmal record on this as well—would actually study when and how insurgent groups are brought to the table. It’s not really done successfully for a few weeks to get an election. And it sure as hell won’t means the peace—assuming it lasts—will continue afterward. This is just bad news all around. The Taliban have the momentum; why would they lay down their arms now?

Update: Nevermind. Or I told you so. I can’t choose. Sigh.


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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 5 comments }

Lills July 27, 2009 at 6:16 am

I lived in Badghis for almost 2 years working with an NGO. It went from a fairly peaceful place where we had freedom of movement – and I mean REAL freedom of movement, by car, by bike, by horse! – to the place i eventually left, full of fear and sleepless nights after my staff house was attacked. It is most certainly a Taliban stronghold. And whomever is making this deal is committing to a fool’s bargain…..

Dafydd July 27, 2009 at 6:38 am

Whatever anyone else may think, the taliban pretty clearly must consider themselves on the front foot at the moment.

A truce in this place is great for them. They can train, store supplies & retreat here. Then they use it as a springboard to attack Herat.

With Turkmenistan being amongst the least pro Western of all bordering nations, there is a strong possibility of an alternative supply route too.

By the way, ‘fairly non violent’ and ‘Taliban Stronghold’ are not necessarily inconsistent.

If the government does not dispute Taliban control there, it will be just about the most peaceful place in Afghanistan.

Sean Alexander July 27, 2009 at 10:45 am

Such sarcasm in this post 🙂
I applaud the British govt for wanting to try anything (if I must), but as you pointed out, this was tried before and went over like a lead balloon. So, fool you once….

M Shannon July 27, 2009 at 11:56 am

If the Taliban were smart they would announce that they would not interfere with the vote because it was a waste of time and was already rigged for Karzai by the CIA. Most Afghans would readily believe this. Many expect this.

They wouldn’t kill any voters and any government crowing about what a good job the security forces did would be irrelevant.

Meanwhile they could still attack the government and NATO and work on advertising their new civilian friendly ROE which was recently announced.

Joel Hafvenstein July 30, 2009 at 9:16 am

Last year Badghis went downhill and turned into a minor Taliban stronghold — sort of where Kunduz was two years ago, or Wardak. It’s now a center for destabilization activities extending south to Herat and Ghor and north into Faryab, Jawzjan, and Sar-e-Pul.

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