Mutawakil for President!

by Dafydd on 1/28/2010

Looks like the organisers of the London conference have got themselves a new strategy.

It involves:-

1) Buying off low level Taliban fighters
2) Getting Karzai to cut a deal with more senior figures (bringing some into his government)

To this end an amnesty has been announced for five relatively senior figures from the pre 2001 Taliban regime. Of these the then Foreign Minister (Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil) seems the most prominent. This amnesty involves taking the individuals off a UN list of terrorists. Perhaps they expect this man to act as a gobetween?

The referenced article goes though the obvious arguments on why this is risky, namely

1) The Taliban (or Afghans in general) might interpret this as weakness
2) The Taliban may well be willing to talk, and talk, and talk without ever wanting the talking to reach a conclusion
3) In order to achieve any sort of political settlement with a sufficiently large part of the Taliban, the coalition has to settle with some pretty unsavoury characters. This implies high political risk.

This ‘new’ strategy basically goes back to the idea that some sort of accommodation can be reached with the Taliban. Many people have criticised earlier efforts by British representatives to reach such an accommodation in Musa Qala. I don’t see what is different this time, apart from the scale. I can understand that an insurgency may be more ripe for this sort of engagement when they are forced on to the back foot, but from what I can tell, the initiative and momentum are more with the Taliban now than was the case back then.

If it works, great. If it doesn’t we will have failed to learn the lesson of Musa Qala, making this a much worse blunder, and on a much greater scale, than was made back then.

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This post was written by...

– author of 23 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

I am a UK citizen & resident with a long standing interest in Central Asia. This probably has something to do with student days, a late night TV show called 'The Silk Road' and a TV with no remote control. I currently work in software and live with my wife & three children.

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