The Haqqani Opportunity

by Joshua Foust on 12/27/2010 · 28 comments

The most common response to my public about-face and decision to sign onto a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan is “how will you accomplish this?” It is a perfectly fair, reasonable question I hope Alex Strick van Linschoten and Gilles Dorronsoro, the two main drivers of the Call to Reason, answer some day soon.

I have my own answer, as well. Before General Petraeus took over the war, recall that the major story Generals McChrystal and Flynn—the commander and chief intelligence officer in Afghanistan, respectively—were telling writers like Robert Kaplan was that they were facing a “kinder, gentler Taliban.” What they meant was: Mullah Omar was behaving in many ways as if he was concerned with his own legitimacy. They also consider Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaludin Haqqani to be “absolutely salvageable.”

At the time—which was this past March, only nine months ago or so—I mocked the idea of incorporating them into any kind of reconciliation. Partly, this was because the good generals did not display a very firm grasp of who and what these groups actually were. MG Flynn, for example, seemed unable to distinguish between Hezb-i Islami Gulbuddin, the insurgent group with an egotist leader desperate for relevance, and Hezb-i Islami, the mostly-legitimate political party that feeds candidates into the Afghan parliament (they are most certainly not the same). Similarly, I mocked the idea that the Haqqanis were really getting tired of fighting and were ready to negotiate, precisely because they operated so effectively and so lucratively in the east. It was something they just said, with no evidence or reason to believe them.

I remain firmly convinced, too, that getting into a punching contest with the Haqqanis will eventually result in a loss for Team America. It isn’t that the U.S. military will be defeated per se, it’s just that the Haqqanis have proven far more stubborn and willing to absorb steep losses. In any medium-run, it simply does not favor the U.S.

So it with this context in mind that we ponder a pair of stories, appearing on consecutive days, in the New York Times. In a very real way, they cancel each other out—one painting a dour portrait of a Haqqani Network dug in and quite impossible to rout, the other a happy if wary picture of a Haqqani Network thrown back on its heels by a relentless campaign of raids and government assassinations.

The key here is probably geography: the pessimistic piece is speaking specifically about the provinces where the Haqqanis are strongest: the Loya Paktia region centered on Khost with adjacent areas of control in Ghazni, Logar, Wardak, and pockets of Kabul province. The optimistic piece seems based entirely around a single, kind of unique statistic: that the Haqqanis have been unable to launch a spectacular attack in Kabul in seven months (which is kind of misleading anyway: the article lists the bombing at the Serena Hotel in January of 2008, the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul that summer, and then skips 18 months to the bombing at FOB Chapman in Khost province, all as evidence of the trend).

Anyway, the point in all this context is to discuss what this means for negotiations. Just so we’re clear: I am not optimistic negotiations will really work. If forced at gunpoint, I’d say there is between a 40% and 50% chance the talks will succeed in the next five years. But as I said before, those same talks are also our best option: the current COIN strategy is both unsustainable and, in my view, providing the illusion of progress. I remain firmly opposed to total withdrawal for hopefully obvious reasons, and have placed my hat firmly in the “management” camp, rather than the “victory” camp. Negotiations is a key pillar of the management regime—if they succeed, then there is something to manage toward; if they fail, then we remain in a holding pattern to then contemplate either re-escalation or steeper withdrawal.

The inescapable fact that should pervade all of this is that the U.S. has never tried. Hamid Karzai has a long, sad history of failed attempts to negotiate with the insurgency (and the one example of the U.S. participating, which I detailed at that link, turned out to be a humiliating disaster). One of the reasons behind this is, if Karzai negotiates something—even ignoring the looming disaster of a Rabbani-led Peace Council—but the U.S., and Pakistan do not sign off on it, then that agreement will mean nothing. The Taliban know this, and the common understanding that the talks so far have been more ritual than substance perhaps explains their persistent record of failure.

So the U.S. can and should and must participate in the negotiations process moving forward. That will obviously require at least one gesture of good faith on both parties, even before the messy discussions about fault lines, compromise areas, and inflexible demands (which all sides will clearly have and must work through). This is where the muddled picture of the Haqqani Network presents an opportunity: we now have a test case we can work with, and attempt to ascertain the prospects of a wider-scale negotiations process succeeding.

Let me explain. The pessimistic NYT piece details, at great length, the efforts of the Haqqani Network to co-opt the school system and operate a shadow government. The optimistic NYT piece on the Haqqanis ends with this paragraph:

And this puts the United States in direct competition with the Haqqanis. “The Haqqani network’s goal remains territory,” said a third NATO official in Kabul. “While it does not have the capacity to unseat the government in Kabul, nor to really govern, it wants to seize territory because that allows it to generate income ‘Mafia-like.’ ”

What both pieces indicate is that there is sufficient formal structure to the Haqqani Network’s activity in eastern Afghanistan to present carrots and sticks at the negotiating table. If, say, the shadow government is legitimized in some way—if the shadow governor is allowed to run the district, but only on the condition he accept an Afghan police presence. This is but one example, but it is actually tremendous news: pretensions to legitimacy mean that legitimacy is up for bargaining, which means the government—and ISAF—have something to work with.

At the same time, there is a widespread belief that the Haqqanis are, in essence, a mafia-like organization: they exist primarily to make money, so the argument goes, so they seek to control territory and disrupt government control to better make money. This too, should challenge how we frame the group: if they are a mafia-like group, then they pose far less of a long-term problem than the Quetta/Karachi shura Taliban, who have a clear political agenda aimed at Kabul.

So, if the Haqqanis are a mafia seeking only local control, and local space to operate their businesses… why not see what happens if we give them that? Let’s test the proposition. The “bad man” argument against doing so—we cannot cooperate with the Haqqanis because they are bad people—doesn’t really apply, not while Marshall Fahim is a Vice President and Berhanuddin Rabbani, of all people, is heading the Peace Council. We have an opportunity, right now, to use the fluid conditions in southeastern Afghanistan to try and begin the process of negotiations to end th worst of the fighting.

It might not work. In fact, I’ll go ahead and say it probably won’t work, since there remain precious few upsides I can really envision ISAF allowing the Haqqanis to get from the talks process. That obviously needs to change as a part of the reconciliation process. But now is the time to try. Not 2011, not 2014. Right now. Negotiations take a long time—sometimes decades. The sooner we can start them the sooner we can end the fighting. And that means the sooner we can go home.


Subscribe to receive updates from Registan

This post was written by...

– author of 1849 posts on Registan.net.

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

For information on reproducing this article, see our Terms of Use

{ 28 comments }

Salman December 27, 2010 at 10:18 pm

While I agree with the assessment the negotiations are the way to go forward, the ‘intention’ of any such negotiations with the Haqqani network is more important that the act itself.

The intent, as of now, seems to be only to put in mutiple regimes so as to project a stable Afghanistan, and then leave the mess to be controlled at a later date by the agencies that created it in the first place. The intent, either by the US, ISAF, or Pak Army does not seem to be towards a more stable Afghanistan, but an exit strategy by the former and a controlling interest by the latter.

The issue of ‘geographic control’ is not limited to the Haqqanis, Tajiks, or HI, but unfortunately includes a plethora of international players (unfortunately) including the US, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and to a lesser (and more unfortunate) extent – the Afghans themselves.

Negotiations with the Haqqani network and all other players is the way to go – but not before the international stakeholders are on the same page. Otherwise one or the other is going to control what happens in Afghanistan post-2011 – and it wont be the Afghans.

TJM December 27, 2010 at 11:07 pm

“If, say, the shadow government is legitimized in some way—if the shadow governor is allowed to run the district, but only on the condition he accept an Afghan police presence. This is but one example, but it is actually tremendous news: pretensions to legitimacy mean that legitimacy is up for bargaining, which means the government—and ISAF—have something to work with.”

That’s a good illustration of my concern with the GIRoA-Taliban negotiation concept. I don’t understand how the Afghan people get any say in the matter. The Afghan people (meaning the Afghans who are not part of the GIRoA and not dedicated members of the insurgency) must have their interests represented. The GIRoA lacks legitimacy to negotiate on behalf of the people. Haqqani, Hekmatyar, Omar, et al lack both authority and legitimacy.

The Afghan people watching as a corrupt, ineffective GIRoA sits down with brutal Taliban thugs to discuss the fate of the people is analogous to a drug-addicted mother and an abusive father arguing over child custody at the kitchen table while the kids wait to see which one will take the lead in destroying their future.

Madhu December 28, 2010 at 12:19 am

What do you think of the meeting in Turkey? Is this part of the beginning of negotiations you are talking about?

Natalie Sambhi December 28, 2010 at 5:14 am

TJM (and Josh),

I agree with your model of an agreement between GIRoA and the Afghan people, however, I return to my earlier concern with negotiations.

We’re still not addressing one of the core issues of this discussion (and Josh, steer me in the right direction if I’m wrong): what are going to do with GIRoA (with or without Karzai at the helm) as one of the negotiating parties?

As you note, GIRoA lacks the legitimacy (and the means) not only to represent the people, but it follows that it is also unable to uphold negotiated obligations under any deal. That renders any tripartite (US-TB-GIRoA) or quadripartite (US-TB-GIRoA-AFG ppl) negotiation process meaningless. Set aside (for this post) the issue of whether insurgent groups can uphold negotiated obligations, but the nexus between GIRoA and the Afghan people must be paid more attention and consolidated as a preparatory step. I’m still not convinced that the necessary, minimal legitimacy will be established in time, if at all.

In the spirit of your analogy, there needs to be some serious detox programs before custody as a subject can even be broached.

NS

KeithB December 28, 2010 at 9:40 am

Josh,

Just a couple of comments:

You peg the chances of success of the negotiation plan at 40% to 50%. If it fails, as it is likely to do, what then? What’s the next plan?

Also, I take issue with your “management camp” position. If we view Afghanistan as a problem to manage, what (or which) problem are we supposed to manage? Why is managing this problem with a smaller contingent of troops easier (or better) than managing the problem with 100,000 troops? Is the difference simply cost, and not chance of success?*

Next, if you are concerned with violence levels in Afghanistan, and I know you are, reducing the # of NATO troops** makes no sense unless you believe the ANSF will be ready to take responsibility for security in the fairly near term. (I’d point out that in your previous post, you cited an article that said ANSF soldiers were running away from combat.)

So we are left with a negotiation strategy that is less than likely to work, an ANSF that can’t take responsibility for security, and a NATO contingent that isn’t big enough to hold down violence.

That sounds like an argument for more troops for a longer time, but it isn’t. The options presented are either unsustainable (big COIN indefinitely) or unlikely to work (negotiations coupled with reduction in force levels). ***

So I’ll support negotiations as political theater designed to allow America to declare victory and leave, but a.) I don’t think they will lead to lasting peace****, and b.) many more Americans will die in the interim.

* I realize this is a relatively new proposition, so I know you are still thinking through the consequences, as am I. I largely agree with you, but I wonder if we can identify more cost/life effective ways to manage the problem.

** That is, if you believe NATO is holding down violence rather than exacerbating it.

*** One of the reasons I am usually reticent to comment on blogs is there are a lot of assumptions that should be explicit in my post. (Thus my crude footnotes.) One of them is that negotiations would be coupled with a force reduction; that need not necessarily be so. However, the plans, as I have read them, are to draw down troops to roughly 30K by 2014, while negotiating with the various TB elements.

**** The commenters above (TJM/Natalie) have identified some serious sticking points with negotiations, as have many others.

TJM December 29, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I think you’re right.

Realist Writer December 28, 2010 at 5:38 pm

“That’s a good illustration of my concern with the GIRoA-Taliban negotiation concept. I don’t understand how the Afghan people get any say in the matter.”

That’s because the people have no say in any matter of international relations. The State is supreme, The People IS NOT.

Realist Writer December 28, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Or rather, to elborate, the world system that currently governs politics grant great say to Non-State Actors and State Actors, at the cost of minimizing all other Actors. Yes, the people of Afghanistan have no say in these talks…but neither do the people of Pakistan, the people of the United States, the people of Iran, the peoples of NATO and the “Coalition of the Willing”, the people in the ‘Stans, etc. All of these people have important interests in this conflict, yet their voices will not be heard, and will NEVER be heard. Why is it that you seem to care about why the Afghan people are given no voice in these talks, when it was clear that “the people” will never be consulted? I would be shocked, SHOCKED if Wikileaks revealed that the United States had consulted with the people of Afghanistan before launching its military invasion.

Don Anderson December 28, 2010 at 9:00 pm

“The Afghan people watching as a corrupt, ineffective GIRoA sits down with brutal Taliban thugs to discuss the fate of the people is analogous to a drug-addicted mother and an abusive father arguing over child custody at the kitchen table while the kids wait to see which one will take the lead in destroying their future.”

This whole thread is a bit on the-how should I say it? A bit on the cultural superiority of the West line of thinking? The valiant suffering Afghan people are like children?

You have gone too far in your hubris and superiority now.

All Afghans are thugs, there is no honor or honesty in either the Government or the Taliban? We can just bribe both sides? There is no sincerity either in the Islamic Struggle or on the Government side?

We must manage the peace the way we managed the conquest, the post conquest and this ever spiralling war? This both good and bad is our creation first and foremost from 1980 to today.

Remember that next time you see a thief and thug in each and every Afghan. The quote above and implications of “management” as Joshua calls for are rife with near racsist disregard for the real history of this conflict in each of its phases.

The Afghan people are like Children in a divorce? Do the insults never end? After all we have done to create this, how can anyone make statements like that. The finger should be pointed toward ourselves first.

If you cannot even come to terms with both extremes of human nature, the honest, and dishonest, the dedicated and corrupted you will never understand any conflict. Maybe both sides are correct, the sooner we leave the better for both of them. Maybe South Asians for once and all need a divorce from us in the West?

We just can’t seem to get beyond looking down on Afghans. And that is what all of these so called proposals are- from the Call to Reason to Afhgan Study Group to the unmentionable insanity of dividing the nation. They need us to proscribe peace as we proscribe war and conquest in each and every turn?

I hope we can get beyond this basic sense of superiority and realize we and the Soviet Union are as big players in this as any “evil Afghan is”. Hubris in all its forms is disgusting to simple humanity. And the mirror is the worst enemy of each and every one involved in this crisis.

This tragedy is riddled with US/Soviet SuperPower mistakes, evil and complicity in each and every crime we decry today. Maybe Shame is the first step to cure for all of us.

TJM December 28, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Take a deep breath. I didn’t suggest any of that. It’s called an analogy. Bad analogy? Maybe. Orientalism or some other sin? Please.

Don Anderson December 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I just drove from Kabul to Assabad…the last thing any Afghan needs is crapola childish analogies when there is war going on for the past thirty years. When we grow up …maybe they can have some peace…

Give up the hand holding ‘help me help you” arrogance ….recognize we are the manipulators of this war since 1980. Recognize the Soviet Union dragged them into this war which we now continue.

This is not orientalism…this is historical fact. Your analogy was crap and you need to think things through a bit more.

We have trouble managing ourselves…now we want to manage the peace too. Let them do this without us for once. That is what they all want, the day when we are gone.

anan December 29, 2010 at 4:20 am

Don Anderson, you say some things that make sense and some things that don’t.

Curious how you don’t mention that much of the “Taliban” is part of the Pakistani establishment and and related to the Pakistani civil war. Noticed how you avoid discussing how the greatest imperialist power in Afghanistan since the 1980s happens to be South Asian.

Curious how you diss the ANSF more than almost any other serious observor of Afghanistan who knows something about Afghanistan and who is not Pakistani. It is as if you want a faction of the Pakistani civil war to defeat the ANA. Why? Do you see the ANA as a long term threat to Pakistan the way many Pakistanis do, including President Musharraf?

Some reality. The ANA isn’t going away. It isn’t going to lose. It is likely to fight the Taliban for a long time to come. It is likely to continue to recieve substantial assistance from ISAF [including $1 billion from Japan per year indefinitely], and get substantial assistance from Russia, Turkey, Iran and India.

The Taliban [the nexus around Sirajuddin in particular] is unlikely to offer Pres Karzai terms he finds acceptable until it is degraded by the ANSF in the battlefield [ISAF doesn't count since Afghans and Pakistanis think most of ISAF leaves soon]. Until the Taliban seriously negotiates with the Pres Karzai, the negotiations are a joke. This means the war between the ANSF and Taliban is likely to continue for as long as the Pakistani civil war continues. The real question for the international community is how much they should help the GIRoA and ANSF over the long term.

Suspect you already know all this, and your real motivation is to persuade ISAF, NTM-A, Iran, Russia, India and Turkey to abandon the ANSF. Again, I ask why?

“Maybe South Asians for once and all need a divorce from us in the West?” Umm. Pretty sure you know that is not what most South Asians want . Among other things most South Asians want a real long term commitment to surge ANSF capacity in collaboration with them, and to support the ANSF as a respected and trusted friend without any of the all too common smug western condescension. Smug western condescension such as your snide comments and misleading innuendos against the ANA.

Strangely enough, agree with you that all this talk about Washington negotiating peace with the Taliban and part of the Pakistani establishment on behalf of Afghans as if Afghans are children is massively condescending and offensive. Which is why Pres Karzai would never allow it. Better to surge Afghan capacity and back them to the hilt over the long run as Afghans defeat the Taliban their own way [militarily first, which hopefully leads to true negotiations.]

Are my comments a bit harsh? Well, here is a test below.

One of the best ways to “bring peace” to Afghanistan and facilitate “real negotiations” would be to permit Pres Karzai and encourage Pres Karzai to invite Iran, Russia, India and Pakistan join NTM-A in major ways. At the very least it would keep Pres Karzai from screaming that ISAF is purposely keeping the ANSF weak and preventing him from accepting Iranian, Russian and Indian help.

Iran, Russia, India and Pakistan have all repeatedly asked for the priviledge of training the ANSF on a large scale, including this year. Iran again urged the GIRoA to allow Iran to train and equip the ANSF a few days ago.

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8910041647

From your comments to date, suspect you oppose this. Big surprise [with heavy sarcasm.]

shine December 29, 2010 at 3:19 pm

anon, you sadly failed Don’s point. I think he is very right in saying that let Afghans themselves negotiate and find the peace in their country without interference from outside. You are telling us that Afghans should keep fighting and killing each other. That is silly of you. Look what you are telling us. “Some reality. The ANA isn’t going away. It isn’t going to lose. It is likely to fight the Taliban for a long time to come. It is likely to continue to recieve substantial assistance from ISAF [including $1 billion from Japan per year indefinitely], and get substantial assistance from Russia, Turkey, Iran and India.”
You may have problem with and a deep hatred towards Pakistan but Afghanistan must not be made a zone for proxy wars. Several generations of Afghans have tremendously suffered by the war (that was not a choice of Afghans but rather it was imposed on them by the Soviets as part of the great game between the two superpowers). Afghan have a right to live a peaceful and prosperous life. Please don’t include Russia, Turkey, and Iran in your wish for the dirty game was played in nineties in Afghanistan. That cold-blooded game is not going to succeed this time around.

anan December 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Shine, Don Anderson has a history of comments over many months, and the comment was really addressed at his entire corpus of comments.

“I think he is very right in saying that let Afghans themselves negotiate and find the peace in their country without interference from outside.” Don’t agree that is what he is really saying. Don Anderson basically parrots the “deep state” line and de facto favors Afghanistan being ruled by extremist proxies of part of the Pakistani establishment. Please don’t confuse the extremist part of the Pakistani establishment with Pakistan or the interests of the Pakistani people.

“You are telling us that Afghans should keep fighting and killing each other.” Sirajuddin Haqqani and some other major Taliban factions are saying that.

Do you really think the Sirajuddin Haqqani lead nexus is best thought of as organically Afghan? :LOL:

The ANA is 42% Pasthun and is respected and backed by the large majority of Afghan Pasthuns. The Taliban is unpopular with most Afghan Pasthuns. The question for all of us is whether we are ANA’s side, or the Taliban’s side.

“You may have problem with and a deep hatred towards Pakistan” The people who threaten Pakistan most are the Siraj nexus [including Ilyas Kashmir and his LeT, Bdes 313, 095, 055; TTP, TNSM, Al Qaeda, LeT] Are you on Pakistan’s side against them?

“but Afghanistan must not be made a zone for proxy wars.” Have you told Siraj that? He doesn’t agree with you.

“Several generations of Afghans have tremendously suffered by the war” True and very sad.

“(that was not a choice of Afghans but rather it was imposed on them by the Soviets as part of the great game between the two superpowers).” Only partly true. The Afghans have always had agency. Afghanistan has had a civil war from the 1970s to the present, exxacerbated by international influences.

“Afghan have a right to live a peaceful and prosperous life.” Agreed. But does Sirajuddin Haqqani’s nexus agree? Does Mullah Omar have any plan that doesn’t involve the collapse of the Afghan economy? As you know, the number of Afghans who are freshman in college is about 15 times what it was in 2001, many of them woman. The Afghan economy has grown 12% per year in real terms since 2001. Why do you think Afghans want to go back to a time of far greater poverty, suffering and Taliban oppresssion? How many hundreds of thousands of Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Tajiks and anti Taliban Pashtuns do you think the Taliban plans to kill? For all Afghanistan’s problems today, far fewer Afghans are dying now then died during the Taliban’s rule 1996-2001.

“Please don’t include Russia, Turkey, and Iran in your wish for the dirty game was played in nineties in Afghanistan.”

Iran, Russia and Turkey have all offered substantial assistance to the ANSF this year. And good for them. Afghanistan and its ANA need real friends, not fake pretend friends who quietly want to help the Taliban linked networks defeat the ANA.

shine December 30, 2010 at 1:55 am

“Don’t agree that is what he is really saying.” But now Don himself has clearly restated his point for your convenience. I doubt that you’ll be able to follow him. Reading disability is a major handicap. You need better comprehension skills.

“Please don’t confuse the extremist part of the Pakistani establishment with Pakistan or the interests of the Pakistani people.” Well every country has that problem. Afghanistan has deeply religious segments as well as liberal ones. You can not eliminate one segment of a society or the other for any excuse. All of them deserve to live peaceful life. Fanatic Hindu extremists are killing, burning, and torturing the members of other religious minorities in India. These extremists have been in power too in India in the past. You need not confuse those Hindu terrorists with secular democratic face of India either.

“Sirajuddin Haqqani and some other major Taliban factions are saying that.” All I know is they are fighting against the forces they think are invaders. I am sure you’ll do the same if some one breaks into your house and starts killing your family members.

“Do you really think the Sirajuddin Haqqani lead nexus is best thought of as organically Afghan? :LOL:” It is silly, I think. No LOL. You are indeed insane. Don is right. You’re not well. Take a good care of yourself.
“The people who threaten Pakistan most are the Siraj nexus [including Ilyas Kashmir and his LeT, Bdes 313, 095, 055; TTP, TNSM, Al Qaeda, LeT] Are you on Pakistan’s side against them?” Insanity. Pure insanity. Get some light. You may be living in your own imaginary world.
“Have you told Siraj that? He doesn’t agree with you.” I thought Siraj is fighting for his people, his country, and his dignity. You think otherwise. I believe you are a long time participant on this blog. Still having so much non-sense? Can not believe that. I rather won’t read more of your crap.

sayke January 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm

this is amusing… we don’t usually see people on here openly defending pakistan’s attempt to reconquer afghanistan, so it’s good to have you around…! i guess…!? hah!

anan’s anlogy is pretty good: the taliban in afghanistan are largely driven by one faction in pakistan’s internal civil war. the pakistani deep state irrationally views india as an existential threat, mostly in order to justify its own dominance of pakistani society, and that drives pakistan’s proxy war on afghanistan.

the religious schmucks are, as usual, pawns of secular interests… and if you don’t want afghanistan to be a proxy battlefield, then kick pakistan (and iran) out. it’s that simple.

shine January 1, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Same old disgusting trash being tossed again. sayke, you need to use the stuff contained in your skull for coming up with a little better claims. You don’t really desrve a response. I do not usually waste my time dealing dummies.

sayke January 2, 2011 at 12:32 am

haha is that all ya got? say what you want about kashmir, but pakistani terrorists straight up attacked the indian parliament – not to mention mumbai!! and pakistanis have the chutzpa to complain about indian aggression!? hah…

pakistan needs to stop trying to reconquer afghanistan, stop sponsoring terrorist attacks on india, and start worrying about its own internal problems for a change. the floods should have been a katrina moment – they exposed the utter inability of the pakistani deep state to protect the people from actual threats to their security. the military must be removed from political life, and competent civilian government put in charge.

till that happens, pakistan will remain a basket case, starving its own people, blowing up its otherwise-peaceful neighbors, and otherwise exporting chaos to the region and the world.

Steve Maghribi December 30, 2010 at 1:10 pm

“Have you told Siraj that? He doesn’t agree with you.”

General Anan…you are capable of talking to Siraj and he drives a Lexus or a Nexus?

You are that close…?? But I thought you have never even went to Afghanistan or Pakistan, so how could you know what Siraj..your close buddy…agrees with or not?????

“Have you told Siraj that? He doesn’t agree with you.”

General Anan…please get a grip. You are losing it. In public…Rest over New Years.

No such things as Blogging Post Traumatic Stress? Or is there? If so, take the pills they recommend.

ps..TJM….the comment on Afghans as Children…you should be ashamed of your arrogant ignorant analogy. Pretty pathetic as Shah said.

You were trying to be quick witted but all you did was step up to your neck in cow manure, and insulted the very people who deserve our best and not our worst.’

Meditate and Learn, and give up the arrogance that you get from never suffering like they have. If you weren’t so obviously spoiled you would never ever forget what has happened in Afghanistan, the terrors and hundreds of thousands that have died over this period of time.

Thanks Don-at least some of us care about what the Afghans think and feel first. It is their country no matter what tortures the world puts them through now in the name of “management”

General Anan does not have a clue about anything anymore. Please ignore him.

anan December 30, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Steve Maghribi,

I am not that bright. Guilty as charged. :-)

If you really want to learn about Sirajuddin, there is quite a bit of material out there.

You can start by reading some of Imtiaz Gul’s research on Sirajuddin:
http://www.imtiazgul.com/
Imtiaz’s talk starts 1 hour 21 minutes in below:
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/PakistanBo

Some Pakistanis still feel gratitude to Sirajuddin Haqqani for his help with the Kashmiri freedom struggle, his help managing Pakistani traitors who were supporting India and the Israel [Pakistani Shiites], his Dad’s help in resisting the Soviets, and Sirajuddin’s help in fighting the ANA and ISAF. [some Pakistanis believe that Europeans and Americans are trying hard to destroy Pakistan]

This false sense of gratitude allowed Sirajuddin Haqqani to get away with enabling the murder of Pakistanis for years. But Pakistanis are getting wiser now.

Many Pakistanis falsely believe the ANA is anti Pakistani and a threat to their country. You can see it in the body language in Gen Ehsan Ul Haq in the link above and in Pres Musharraf when they discuss the ANA. Sirajuddin has cleverly misused this perception for his own anti Pakistani agenda.

The Pakistani suspicion of the ANA needs to be managed, or Taliban/Karzai negotiations will remain a joke, and it will be harder for Pakistanis to do what they know they need to do to stop Sirajuddin.

Sirajuddin is losing in Khost to 1-203, Khost AUP, Governor Naeemi and Col Luong’s Rakkasans. Sirajuddin is also losing in Paktia to a lesser degree. Sirajuddin is even starting to lose in Paktika to 2-203 and ISAF [very tentative so far.] And inshallah he will be beaten in Pakistan.

After you read one of Imtiaz Gul’s books, feel free to ask for more material on Sirajuddin. Or better yet, ask some of your ANA friends to tell you about Sirajuddin.

Steve Maghribi, I don’t know your background or where you are coming from. I assume you mean well.

shine December 30, 2010 at 11:37 pm

anon,
Daring Steve Maghribi’s advice to ignore you, I would like to respond your comments. I really want to understand your motives in stressing so much on the role of ANA in Afghanistan. ANA, in the first place, was created as a tool to fight against Afghan national resistance. The only motive for the youths joining rank and file of ANA was to beat their hunger. Afghan economy has been shattered in the prolonged occupations by foreign forces with all related exploits and mischief including the ensuing civil war like situation. With industry, farming, and production practically non-existent, some people may grow poppy and earn some money to barely feed and fill the stomach of their families. In that backdrop, joining ANA, which brings a steady income over months and years, has a lot of attraction for many. Most of the members of ANA, however, are hesitant in doing their assigned task, i.e. killing fellow Afghans in the name of war on terror. As a result, many of them prefer to desert, have a handshake with Afghan resistance, or brazenly attack their foreign instructors.

Indians want to see ISAF stuck in Afghan quagmire for extended period for India’s strategic benefits. They want Americans and Europeans continue receive body bags without sending Indian soldiers in harm’s way and sacrificing any Indian life. While Indians are providing some intel sharing with ISAF and offering their assets for unleashing terror in Pakistan, they are not really willing to send their troops into Afghanistan to help ISAF in actual fighting. Now that Americans and their comrades/allies-in-occupation are showing the signs of desperation and contemplating withdrawal, Indians are getting nervous.

An alternate approach for Indians is to keep the in-fighting in Afghanistan somehow going for ever. anon, you are advocating/projecting/suggesting that role for ANA, the role that your evil inner thinks guarantees a perpetual civil war in Afghanistan. Indians were instrumental in securing that cold-blooded goal during the nineties by fomenting and exploiting the internal feuds on Afghan people. I know you’re dreaming again to have similar success. But I am sure you’ll only taste disappointment this time. Iran and Russia least need instability and fighting in Afghanistan. They rather need a stable and peaceful Afghanistan for their own reasons. China too needs a peaceful Afghanistan to sustain their rapid progress and development. Turkey is strategically acting as a bridge to bring comprehensive understanding and promote cooperation between Pakistan and disgruntled elements in Afghanistan.

As for the dispute of Jummu and Kashmir, it is actually UN-recognized issue between Pakistan and India. India is in continued violation of related UN resolutions by keeping Indian forces in occupied J&K. Indian occupation forces have killed about a hundred thousand Kashmiris in the last two decades. India can not get rid of the dispute of J&K by fueling the Afghan in-fighting perpetually. For that, Indians need to give the right of self-determination to the people of J&K as promised by India at the UN.

Finally, all this problem of PTT in FATA and elsewhere in Pakistan appeared only after the foreign occupation of Afghanistan in 2001. That phenomenon is not new, however. Similar surge of blasts in markets, train stations, and other public places was also observed during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979. Siraj or Wahaj (or any other name that you love parroting) is visible only so long as occupation forces remain in Afghanistan. In the absence of external influence, local forces and factors almost always amicably deal with such elements. So will happen this time too.

anan December 31, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Shine, you have some misunderstandings about the ANA. ;-)

You could write 10,000 pages on the ANA and barely strike the surface. Much as you could right 10,000 pages on the Pakistani Army. Shine, I regard the Pakistani army as being the highest quality and highest capacity in the world, relative to funding. Perhaps the highest quality and capacity relative to funding in human history. So you have a lot to be proud of. :-) And it isn’t just me who believes this. Many Indian army and many from other armies around the world similarly admire the Pakistani Army.

Should probably write a series of articles about the ANA, since almost no one else has done so. This would probably be a more appropriate venue to discuss the ANA.

“ANA, in the first place, was created as a tool to fight against Afghan national resistance.”
Where did you hear this from? The decision to create the ANA flows out of the UN representative Brahimi organized Bonn Conference [in Germany] in 2001. In 2001 the UN, and all the stake holders in Afghanistan and almost all the Afghan factions agreed to create a non partisan, ethnically balanced, professional ANSF to provide security for the Afghan people and to disarm all the Afghan militias and Afghan warlords, including all the Northern Alliance forces.

The UN Security Council unanimously created two organizations back then. One of them was UNAMA [responsible for coordinating international economic aid, organizing and advising civilian GIRoA institutions, and facilitating writing the Afghan constitution and facilitating Afghan elections. UNAMA had no security responsibilities other than a few related to the Afghan MoI or Ministry of Interior.] The other was ISAF, which was suppose to build, train and advise the ANSF, while providing temporary security to the Afghan people until the ANSF were able to assume that responsibility.

As you know, Shine, the UNSC in several unanimously passed resolutions, requested all countries to contribute to ISAF, and to provide economic grants to Afghanistan in coordination with UNAMA.

The problem was that the Taliban didn’t really reemerge from Pakistan until 2006. Between 2001 and 2006, ISAF [UN and international community] did little to fund, train, advise and equip the ANSF. Even as late as the fall of 2006, US secretary Rumsfeld was blocking US assistance to the Afghan MoI, arguing that that was the responsibility of the UN, EU, Germany and Afghans. Similarly in the fall of 2006, Rumsfeld was trying to limit US assistance to the ANA, for the same reasons. Rumsfeld publicly demanded in the fall of 2006 that the long term projected size of the ANA be reduced from 80 K to 50 K, and that the ANA budget be slashed. Rumsfeld wanted to phase out US aid to the ANA as soon as possible. The US was also missing in action on the economic aid side as well. Meanwhile NATO blocked India, Russia, Iran [well the real blocking for Russia came from the Afghans] from assisting the ANSF.

A slight effort to form the ANA was begun in 2007. However for most practical purposes, the effort to train, equip, advise and fund the ANSF really began in November, 2009.

The ANSF have come a huge way since November, 2009, and are degrading the Taliban. But simultaneously there has been a proliferation of ordinary crime, organized crime and local militias/warlords [many nominally anti Taliban, many nominally tilting towards the Taliban.] As a result, security in Afghanistan has deteriorated even as parts of the Quetta Shura closest to Mullah Omar have been weakened.

Shine, you may have noticed a major disconnect between the perceptions of the ANA and the perceptions of many local Afghans and the international media. Many ANA [isolated as they are on FOBs and in large sized operations] seem to think they are beating the Taliban. On the other hand, the same can be said for many of the ISAF [from many countries . . . isolated as they are on FOBs and in large unit operations.] But many locals who interact with the ANA may not necessarily feel safer.

“The only motive for the youths joining rank and file of ANA was to beat their hunger.”
I don’t think this is true. Getting into the National Military Academy of Afghanistan or Officer Selection Candidate course is “extremely” competitive. And the graduates of these courses are good quality. The same isn’t true to nearly the same degree for fresh enlistees. However, even for fresh enlistees, there is a waiting list to join the ANA.

Many Afghans [by no means most . . . Afghans are diverse :LOL: ] have a warrior ethos and want to join the ANA. Patriotism is another major factor. In every poll taken of Afghans since 2001, the ANA has been by far the most respected and popular institutions among Afghans. Despite all the recent troubles the ANA remains remarkably popular and respected among Afghan Pashtuns. Suspect this is another reason many want to join the ANA. Two of the most commonly cited reasons ANA soldiers give for joining the ANA is to fight the Taliban and to fight Pakistan. Shine, I think the intense anti Pakistan feeling among many ANA is dangerous for Afghanistan. But it is my view–and I could be wrong–that the ANA no not dislike the Pakistani people per say, which they distinguish from the Pak Army and ISI. Rather, they conflate the ISI, Pakistani Army and Taliban and do not understand the degree to which tens of millions of Pakistanis and large parts of the Pakistani establishment are fighting the Taliban.

“Afghan economy has been shattered in the prolonged occupations by foreign forces with all related exploits and mischief including the ensuing civil war like situation.”
Shine, thinking of writing an article about the Afghan economy. Afghan has grown 12% a year in real terms since the fall of the Taliban. The number of freshman in college has increased 15 fold. The number of girls in school has increased from almost none to 3 million. The number of boys in school has increased from 0.8 million to 4.5 million. Kabul’s population has exploded from 1 million to 5 million because of the economic boom. Afghanistan is a far richer country today than it was a decade ago. Poppy isn’t nearly as large a percentage of Afghan GDP as many media personalities imply. However, much of this prosperity is fake and unsustainable.

“Most of the members of ANA, however, are hesitant in doing their assigned task, i.e. killing fellow Afghans in the name of war on terror.” Could you elaborate? Which ANA Corps, brigade or battalion are you refering to? The ANA varies greatly in quality by unit.

“As a result, many of them prefer to desert” Desertion isn’t a major problem for most ANA units. I track this closely.

“have a handshake with Afghan resistance”
Shine, many ISAF have handshakes with the Taliban too. The biggest cause of anti ISAF sentiment among Afghans is the widely believed conspiracy theory that ISAF is backing the Taliban against the ANSF and Afghans. This is especially widely believed among the ANA and ANP. And it causes a lot of anger and tension.

“or brazenly attack their foreign instructors.” Attacks by the ANA against fellow ANA, ANP, or ISAF are very rare.

May respond to you in more lenght later.

Don Anderson December 29, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Anand…as someone who has been living in South Asia since the 1970s, I will take you comments with a dose of disinterest. You probably have never been to Afghanistan or Pakistan?

Am I right?

I am here in Afghanistan now supporting your beloved ANA. Do you feel stupid yet?

You just don’t have enough experience to justify your near obsessive interest in this war. Please come and visit you might learn something. Your comments become more and more strange as time evolves. Get a grip ….

Pakistan does have a role in the current chaos, but they did not tell the USSR to invade, nor did they tell the US to make Afghanistan the hot war of the Cold War and to support the creation of Islamic Militias against the Soviets with Zia Ul Haq.

To blame Pakistan for each and every crime is insane Anand. But that is you. Along with Pakistan the absolute incompetence of ISAF and GiROA needs to be considered.

Also remember Pakistan is now undergoing the same insurgency that is gripping Afghanistan. They are now victims too of this insanity of Wahabbism.

This Call to Reason follows more the Deep State but you do not even notice. Afghans know exactly what has befallen them and can aportion blame to the correct sources in sequence.

My point is neither the West nor Pakistan should determine the future of Afghanistan. Let them be the neutral developing country that they are without constant war. This I promise is the fervent hope of all Afghans. Were it that this hope might come true.

It looks unlikely as I hear the sound of machineguns in the distance and maybe a rocket fired at an outpost. But it is important to at least envision a better future.

Anand…please take better care of yourself, you are not well.

All the Best…Happy New Year.

Shah Mojadedi December 29, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Don, you made some great points. Finally a ferengi who actually can see how Afghans see things.

We are not children in a divorce. I am truly insulted by the idiotic “analogy” (Bet you thought you were so smart when you made that comment?). Same old same old, people who neither see nor feel at the controls. Just pathetic and racist to boot.

Children after thirty years of war you dare call us that after all the suffering we have gone through. Remember to dishonor an Afghan is a serious crime. If you come to my country remember to wear armored clothes, you have no friends here nor deserve any after that outrageous comment.

General Anan….get a grip, I second the motion. Nonsense, Nonsense, Nonsense flows through your keyboard.

anan December 30, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Don Anderson: “I am here in Afghanistan now supporting your beloved ANA.” Thank you for your service to the ANA and Afghans.

My apologies for going after you. I thought you had subtly made digs at the ANA in some of your previous comments. If that was not your intent, then I am sorry.

Shah Mojadedi, I have always liked, respected and learned from your comments. Look forward to continue learning from you. None of my criticism was directed at you.

“We are not children in a divorce. I am truly insulted by the idiotic “analogy” (Bet you thought you were so smart when you made that comment?). Same old same old, people who neither see nor feel at the controls. Just pathetic and racist to boot.

Children after thirty years of war you dare call us that after all the suffering we have gone through. Remember to dishonor an Afghan is a serious crime.”

Very nicely put.

Shine, I think you are Pakistani. If so, then may Allah bless Pakistan. The entire world, including NATO, India, Iran and Russia are rooting for a successful, free, democratic Pakistan that is integrated into the global system.

By far the vast majority of Pakistan’s enemies are Takfiri extremists. Most of this threat comes from the Sirajuddin Haqqani lead syndicate.

Shine, please listen to two Pakistani patriots below:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/EconomicsinS

Both Ikram Sehgal [a strong supporter of the ISI and Pakistani Army] and Shuja Nawas [who I have a lot of respect for] strongly advocated Pakistani military action against Sirajuddin Haqqani. They mentioned Siraj’s support for TTP and TNSM [these two didn't say it in this discussion, but other Pakistanis have described TTP and TNSM as semi subsidiaries of Siraj] and sectarian murder in Pakistan as why the Pakistani Army had to move against Siraj and eliminate him for reasons unrelated to ISAF and Afghanistan.

Many ultra nationalist pro Pakistani generals are calling for Sirajuddin’s head, in part because they fear the sectarian horror and terrorism Siraj plans to unleash . . . on Pakistanis.

Shine, no doubt you cried for the Kuram Agency Shiites killed by Siraj linked butchers. Some of members of the syndicate even chased Pakistani shiite refugees to Paktia, and killed them in Paktia.

Crying for the tens of thousands of Pakistanis killed by Siraj linked murderers is not enough. All Pakistanis must unite and solve the Siraj problem.

Ilyas Kashmiri is described by some Pakistani observers as increasingly part of the Haqqani network. As you know he seems to have taken over the Lashkar e Jhanvi network [that includes Jundullah, Sipah e Sahaba.] Siraj, through Ilyas Kashmiri, enabled the recent terrorist attack against Iran [that caused Ahmeninijad to call Zardari and threaten dire consequences if Pakistan didn't move against the extremists], and the attack on Mumbai in 2008, and many other terrorist attacks around the world.

If a Siraj enabled terrorist attack kills 10 K Russians, Chinese, Shiites, Americans, Indians or Europeans, can you imagine the consequences for Pakistan?

There is no excuse for Siraj murdering Pakistani Army, Pakistani police, Pakistani Shiites, and Pakistani civilians more generally.

“I thought Siraj is fighting for his people, his country, and his dignity.” . . . I think you said this in a spite of anger without believing it; as a defensive response to support your country.

evden eve nakliyat December 29, 2010 at 4:33 am

Hi all;
So far the Spam Karma/Bad Behavior combo has been money and I spend a lot less time deleting spam filtered into Akismet.

If this continues, I will be sticking with Spam Karma. I really wish they would move it out of the Manage tab and add it to the Comments tab where Akismet is….

JYD December 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Joshua

This whole thesis falls apart because of a key dealbreaker for the US that you conveniently left out – the Haqqanis’ symbiotic and tight relationship with Al Qaeda and transnational jihadis.

* Before Mullah Omar, it was the senior Haqqani was the guy who actually invited and hosted Bin Laden and his gang to Afghanistan. The biggest and most sophisticated pre-9/11 Al Qaeda training camps were in Haqqani territory

* Since 9/11, the cream of the Al Qaeda crop that survived the US onslaught (think Tora Bora) were provided haven by the Haqqanis in their Pakistani redoubts

* After Sirajuddin took over for his ailing father, the Haqqanis have increasingly adopted Al Qaeda’s brutal tactics – beheadings, suicide attacks etc. – and has publicly said that he will not disown his Al Qaeda partners or any of their Uzbek, Chechen counterparts

The Haqqanis are a group that have the oldest and strongest links with Al Qaeda and did not abandon them even after 9/11. They now owe their tactical success to their Al Qaeda friends.

This is precisely why talk of reconciliation or accomodation of the Haqqanis is likely to be no more than that – talk. Unless someone can credibly demonstrate why and how Haqqanis can be persuaded to renounce Al Qaeda in a verifiable manner, they will be the perpetual enemy.

PS: Your co-signer Ahmed Rashid recently noted that the ISI persuaded Haqqanis to cease suicide ops on Kabul for a while

sayke January 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm

even if the haqqanis wanted to negotiate, why would their pakistani sponsors allow them to?

they think they can win. why negotiate if you think you can win?

Previous post:

Next post: