Taliban off the blacklist: a price worth paying?

Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban, is on this UN blacklist.

It seems the Afghan government and its allies in the US, UK etc, increasingly realise they’ll need to negotiate with him at some point.

They’re not allowed to negotiate with him while he’s on the blacklist; they’re very reluctant to take him off it.

This “wrestling with an olive branch” is likely to dominate the London Conference on the future direction of Afghanistan, which starts on Thursday.

Irrespective of whether supposedly “big-hearted” Taliban leaders are open to conversation – or hard cash – the very act of reaching out to them will enrage many (“cowardice or treason?” asks one commenter here)

There could be a middle way – but if it ends up with some Taliban commanders in government again, what was the point of forcing them out in the first place?

Is now the time to talk to the Taliban and / or buy them off? Or should the military offensive continue against them on principle? Should their leaders be taken off the blacklist in order to get them around the negotiating table?

36 Responses to “Taliban off the blacklist: a price worth paying?”

  1. 1 Roberto
    January 27, 2010 at 11:23

    RE “” they’ll need to negotiate with him at some point. “”

    ————- It’s no big deal for the morally bankrupt west to negotiate with cold blooded anti democracy killers, after all, the Chinese communists have become the West’s largest trading partner and banker.

    Afghanistan and Pakistan are becoming increasingly ungovernable, and if the Taliban can do the job, well, the corporate accounting standard is to declare a charge and a write off on the tax return and move on to the next year’s globalization plans to seize the world’s assets.

    Financial centers are no longer needed in London and New York when Asia beckons and is so much cheaper to operate with less rules and laws.

  2. 2 Ibrahim in UK
    January 27, 2010 at 11:26

    It is hardly surprising considering the history:

    After defeating the Soviet occupation, Afghanistan descended into violent anarchy where warlords were killing and raping on the streets in daylight. The situation was so bad that the people celebrated the arrival and victories of the Taleban to bring order!
    The West allied itself with these warlords and invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taleban, and and re-installed the warlords into power. It is naiive to pretend that West leaders are concerned with brutality or human rights abuses. The West has and still does support a long list of dictators, murderers and occupiers, it should not be shocking to see that they are “doing business” with shady characters.
    The average person on the street sees things in terms of morally good and bad. Our leaders see things in terms of a means to an end, they will use media propaganda to convince us that the ends and the means are morally good and for our protection. How else would we continue to sacrifice our children and our taxes for their interests.

  3. 3 piscator
    January 27, 2010 at 11:32

    As the ‘war’ is just a left over from wrong headed US policies in the 1980’s, and has become a pointless exercise in supporting an acknowledgedly corrupt government against religious maniacs, it’s about time we started to negotiate with someone. The poor people in the middle of all the flying lead deserve it.

    Unfortunately, any solution is going to leave the people of Afghanistan far worse off than they were under the relatively progressive government they had before the USA brought Al Qaeda and the Taliban into being.

    We could have done a lot better for the Afghans, it’s a terrible shame and waste.

  4. 4 piscator
    January 27, 2010 at 11:44

    In reply to Ibrahim, who writes,

    “After defeating the Soviet occupation, Afghanistan descended into violent anarchy ”

    Read your history. I hold no brief for the USSR, but ‘Soviet occupation’ is a Cold War invention. The Russians were invited in to aid a semi-legitimate, though undemocratic Government, under attack from extremist Islamic warlords backed by the West. It was a successful device to terminally weaken the USSR at the cost of thousands of lives and the seemingly permanent destruction of a country. After the Russians pulled out, the West did nothing to undo the damage they had done.

    I just hate to see history rewritten, and then chanted as an unarguable truth.
    If we don’t see the causes of the situation clearly, there is little validity in imagining you can accurately comment on a solution.

  5. 5 Guido, Vienna
    January 27, 2010 at 11:58

    If you want peace you must negotiate. Great Britain negotiated with the IRA and Israel with the PLO. Why not negotiate with the Taliban?

  6. 6 Mohsin
    January 27, 2010 at 12:08

    Even if it is pity for both Iraq and Afghanistan, I will find solace if we have any learning from the mistakes. [unfortunately, history says, we never learn from history or learn the wrong thing].

  7. 7 pendkar
    January 27, 2010 at 13:57

    The top leaders are unlikely to ever give up their extreme idealogies. Negotiating with them will only give them more chances to act out their idealogies.

    If there are any at the mid level who are likely to accept moderate views, they should be allowed to enter the mainstream politics.

  8. 8 scmehta
    January 27, 2010 at 13:59

    But will Omar Abdulla (on behalf of the Taleban) lick or nibble on the olive branch; for all you know, he may break it or set it afire. However, it’s a well-meaning gesture, worth trying for the sake of peace in Afghanistan.

  9. 9 username
    January 27, 2010 at 14:27

    This presumes that Omar wishes to negotiate.

  10. 10 Jagjit Singh Mukandpuri
    January 27, 2010 at 14:54

    Afgansitan is a global play ground and lab, where any one can play his game and do his experiment. It does not matter that more than a million people has been crusified. Please for GOD sake stop this blood shed, which is on more than last thirty years. The only and last solution is negotiations.I strongly agree with GUIDO, VIENNA, that if negotiations are possible between Great Britane and IRA and between Israel and PLO, then to bring peace, why not with Taliban?

  11. 11 Ronald Almeida
    January 27, 2010 at 15:17

    May be I’m an ignorant idiot but I always thought that Democracy was all about negotiation.

  12. 12 Ibrahim in UK
    January 27, 2010 at 15:45

    To Piscator:

    True, the Soviets were requested to assist their ally in the Afghan civil war, but the result was that the Soviets killed the president, took control over the government and military centers, and flooded the country with more than a hundred thousand troops. To most people that would be regarded as an occupation.

  13. January 27, 2010 at 16:06

    As far as I know,or am lead to believe,Taliban want theocracy and not democracy.If Taliban were in government they would be nothing but stumbling blocks to a democratic process.The last information I have,suggested that about 20% of Afghans support the Taliban,that is one in five people.Does that means that four in five don’t support? Talking legitimises:carry on the struggle.

    • 14 Ronald Almeida
      January 28, 2010 at 07:58

      Of course it takes two hands to clap.(Except for the Budhists) But isn’t it for those who believe and propagate Democracy, to set an example? Or is it just their duty to shove it down unwilling throats.

      There is also the other question about fighting a losing battle with terrorism and making everybody else’s life uncomfortable with security as the excuse.

  14. 15 Uneza
    January 27, 2010 at 16:43

    it is as someone said b4, the ends justify the means, the west is badly stuck in Afganistan, and now they’d do anything to bring some sort of a gov in the region and go back safely. that is why they’l negociate with any1 regardless of them being on a black list. i just wonder if the Taleban will consider this ‘desire to negociate now’ in the US as a voctory for themselves!

  15. 16 gary indiana
    January 27, 2010 at 17:36

    Regardless of their short-term political affiliations, the rural Afghani people have demonstrated a remarkable ability to resist control by outsiders. Several notable world powers, including all of Afghanistan’s neighbors, have attempted this task and failed. Yet, many people still imagine a military victory is possible. I think they are in error and misjudge the level of carnage required, the horror of which would make any victory a Pyrrhic one. In fact and in spite of their differences, Afghanis have in past demonstrated an ability to peacefully accommodate internal opposing wants and beliefs. And, while I think Mullah Omar and the Taliban have swung the pendulum a bit far to the conservative side (in response to their beliefs it was far to far on the liberal side), they are supported by a substantial number of people. It is these supporters (with their intact beliefs) who must be accommodated to give lasting peace. I believe a tolerable detent could be achieved; but only by the Afghanis themselves. And as ever, negotiations with the most powerful representative are the much preferred path.

  16. 17 robin rattansingh
    January 27, 2010 at 17:48

    neither should in my account take place,this is classic stuck between a rock and a hard place.If they continue military strikes this will take the already lengthy war into a decades war it will not end when one leader falls another capable head arises its a international network which cannot be defeated by platoon patrols and street fighting this is wasting time.What should be considered is a quick final assult that wipe out the enemy completly.If they were to negotiate well the extremists would have won the war at that stage and the nato objectives would be shattered.

  17. 18 Bert
    January 27, 2010 at 17:56

    I think the West should keep its collective “eye on the ball.” The ball being Al Qaeda.

    The reason for the Afghanistan operation was to attack the Al Qaeda camps. The Taliban were in the way, and in-your-face too, in that they allowed Al Qaeda to operate in Afghanistan, and they literally dared George W. to do anything about it.

    Well, George W. as well as Obama have shown that they would do something about it, so that part has not changed. I say sure, negotiate all you want with the Taliban, as long a that original purpose remains in place. It would be a big mistake for anyone to assume that the US or the West want to colonize Afghanistan, so it should be okay with all of us if the Afghanis get whatever form of government they prefer.

    Dredging up the Soviet invasion, and whether or not that was an invasion, is maybe interesting history, but it doesn’t address today’s problem. (I agree that US meddling then was mostly because any enemy of the Soviets was our friend. I always felt ambivalent about that.)

  18. 19 T
    January 27, 2010 at 18:17

    Yes. Can you name one Western power that invaded/occupied Afghanistan successfully? No.

    But does that matter to Obama, Brown and their various “experts”? Not unless the political damage is so great that they’re forced to pull out. Officially, govts. always say “we never negotiate with terrorists.” But the reality is they do. It’s a matter of how you spin it and who ends up looking good.

    January 27, 2010 at 19:32

    There are three parties involved in the Afghan conflict – Karzai forces, the Taliban and NATO. All of these forces have committed mistakes to Afghan people. However, NATO continues to behave like a spectator or arbiters while they have their share of guilt.
    The fury of war whether through use of suicide bombs or the rhetoric of smart drones will not bring peace – this point is clear. They will fail just like Rumsfelds smart bombs and smart bunker bombs.
    This latest unorthodox move must be accompanied by trust and clear intentions. Once again I feel this is one war where we must accept that it is one conflict that will end without any heroes given the spill of innocent blood.
    As for guilt, we need an independent court to try all impartially – where is that and who is innocent?

  20. 21 TomK in Mpls
    January 27, 2010 at 20:05

    The Taliban is a group of people native to Afghanistan. They need to be given as much consideration as everyone else. They need to held accountable for wrong doings like every other citizen, and when appropriate, they need to be protected. If this is done, the rest will sort its self out. Anything else will invalidate any claims as to building a free government based on individual rights.

  21. 22 JanB
    January 27, 2010 at 20:32

    The Taliban do not believe in democracy and consider AT LEAST 65% of the population (women, Shiites and homosexuals) to be sub-human. They have tried to destroy the Shiites in Afghanistan (25% of the population) and will do so again once they are in power. Their support base is limited to the Pashtun people (only 40% of the population, half of whom don’t even support the Taliban). Therefore the Taliban can never be part of a functioning Afghan government.

    It is also pointless to start buying off Taliban soldiers, since that would just lead to every Afghan youngster telling the government they are Taliban in order to get money so there will be no development at all (they’ll all collect welfare and sit on their asses).

    Peace with the Taliban is an illusion: yes, with them in charge there won’t be any gun battles, but that’s only because the Taliban will “deal” with their opponents through sharia “courts” and the occasional random killing spree in non-Pashtun villages.

    To continue fighting is the only option any freedom-loving Afghan (or Afghan Shiite who doesn’t wanna die) can do. The border with Pakistan should be closed and if need be the country should be federalized so the South will be isolated and won’t be able to spoil it for the rest of the Afghans (kinda like the Kurdish part in Iraq which is much safer than the rest of the country because it has its own border patrol to take care of intruders).

  22. 23 Jaime Saldarriaga
    January 27, 2010 at 20:57

    In my opinion this issue should be brought to the discussion table at the UN Security Council.

  23. 24 JanB
    January 27, 2010 at 21:44

    “Yes. Can you name one Western power that invaded/occupied Afghanistan successfully? No.”

    No Western powers, but there were non-western powers:

    1) Alexander the Great

    2) Iranians/Persians

    3) Taliban

    The Soviets nearly won as well, only foreign aid kept the local resistance going, same as now, same as Iraq in 2003-2009, same as the Vietnam War, same as most insurgencies in history. If Afghanistan had been an island (so without the porous border with Pakistan) there would not be a single Talibani left fighting in Afganistan by now. Insurgencies are not won by the insurgents but by the foreign powers that support them.

  24. 25 Khan Noonien Sing
    January 27, 2010 at 22:56

    Lots of opinion here. Its a shame that although everyone may be entitled to their own opinion (except if u live in the East)… everyone is not entitled to their own facts….

    Truth is, if the West were truly interested in conquest in Afghanistan instead of helping it, it could EASILY do as countless civilizations have done over the centuries and just roll in, indiscriminately killing everyone in their path. All the fighting now is between guerillas and an army with one arm tied behind its back….

    The military rules the west follow dont allow for the inhuman random acts of ‘terrorism’ followed in the past (as certainly followed now in Africa and parts of southeast asia). Tell me if the USA rolled in there like the Mongols dis and said ‘look, submit or we kill EVERYONE that they couldnt do it easily?”

    Its called compassion. and the USA has bucketloads of it. and the rest of the world better step up and be counted, or someday you’re all going to be asking chairman mao’s grandson how many kids you can have and what pornography you’ll be allowed to look at on the internet….

    ….Taliban or not, its not a military question, there is no comparison.
    Its a political one.

    Politics = Money=Power

    …and the Taliban will forsake any semblance of ideology for cash.

    Mark my words.

  25. 26 Suti Sahariah
    January 28, 2010 at 01:26

    When the US and its allies launched its war against Taliban in 2001, it had the support and sympathy of the world. It was overwhelmingly seen that what had been done to the US on 9/11 was wrong, and a dangerous and deeply fanatic regime like Taliban that openly suppressed the Afghans and deprived them of their basic human rights had to be eliminated.

    Taliban stood for everything that went against the basic norms of civilised society and their repressive rule couldn’t be justified by any religion. The war in Afghanistan had to have two fold objectives. One was of course to get rid of Al Qaeda –Taliban nexus which has become more of an ideology now; and second one is to usher a new era of developments in the life of Afghans where women are respected and allowed to go to school and ordinary people can live with dignity without the fear of being oppressed by religious extremists.

    A dialogue with Taliban is a betrayal of the hopes of millions of Afghans who rejoiced when the Taliban’s were ousted by listening to music and shaving off their beards as mark of freedom. It would also symbolically mean accepting elements within the government who would be bent to run their extremist writs on Afghans and that could have a possible knock on effect on neighbouring Pakistan. Taliban is not just a group of terrorists, it an violent religious ideology that indoctrinates the likes of Abdul Mutallab to blow up a passengers airliner. Negotiating with Taliban is like distinguishing between a good extremist and a bad. It will be act of betrayal and hypocrisy. Therefore they should be wiped out once and for all

  26. 27 JanB
    January 28, 2010 at 13:34

    “The Taliban is a group of people native to Afghanistan.”

    No, they are from Pakistan, they invaded Afghanistan in 1994. They are linked to the Pashtun, who also live in Afghanistan but only make up 40% of the population.

  27. 28 dan
    January 28, 2010 at 14:02

    Hmmm, let’s see. the “Peacemaker” Obama sends 40,000 New troops to Afghanistan and the world swoons.
    The Taliban are a creation of Pakistani Intellegence Service and we keep giving them millions of dollars so that the radical Muslims can keep recruiting an inexhaustible number of new fighters willing to die to get to Paradise to satisfy their sexual fantasies.
    The whole situation smacks of pure insanity and if the West cannot come up with a comprehensive plan to fight Islamic extremism worldwide, then surely as we discuss this here, the Western world will perish overrun by the pestilence of radical extremism.

  28. 29 bjay
    January 28, 2010 at 14:54

    YE !

    If you can not win it’ , you buy it ?
    Althought, now seems to be a common practice.
    Humor me, I’m fickle.

  29. 30 Rob C
    January 28, 2010 at 15:30

    Isn’t the what the Saudi’s have been doing in supporting Wahabbist’s?

  30. 31 Gary Paudler
    January 28, 2010 at 15:57

    Yesterday, Terry Gross, on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” interviewed author Thomas Ricks http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122990609 who says that the greatest impediment to peace in Afghanistan is the government of our guy Karzai which represents top-to-bottom corruption and disorder. He related something told to him by a villager who said something like; When the Taliban come to our village, they bring fear and impose order, when the Afghan police come, they bring fear and rape our boys and take whatever they want (I’m paraphrasing but that’s the gist). If al Qaeda had not trained in Afghanistan prior to 9/11/01, Western governments would not have pretended to care about the Taliban’s regressive, fundamentalist philosophy; that was just part of the bogus package of reasons for invading Afghanistan. Now, many poorly-informed people, probably including some politicians, conflate the Taliban with al Qaeda of whom very few reside in Afghanistan. We have wrecked Afghanistan – sure, the wrecking was easy – and achieved…what? What little I know about the Taliban would make me very reluctant to inflict them on my sister, but we have employed “constructive engagement” (puts the “gag” in engagement) with lots of unsavory regimes and it’s beginning to look like military engagement in Afganistan might not be working. We should avoid the attractive moral hazard of throwing good bombs after bad and snatch defeat from the jaws of devastating defeat.

  31. 32 Gary Paudler
    January 28, 2010 at 16:07

    I agree with Dan that Pakistan would be a more reasonable focus, but “the Western world will perish overrun by the pestilence of radical extremism.” Huh? We’re a lot closer to succumbing to irrational hyperbole. Where is the threat? Pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq, treat the Palestinians fairly and stop propping-up Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and voila! no existential threat of pestilent extremism, except from Wall Street.

  32. January 28, 2010 at 16:55

    The Taliban have to be decimated. They have been responsible for wide-spread suffering in Afghanistan and showing them the olive branch at this stage would be a sign of weakness. The only language they understand is brute force. They have turned the country upside down. They have to be wiped out. The Afghans need to be protected. President Karzai should not make deals with the Taliban. At the end of the day, the Taliban are interested in securing full control of the country and have full control of the poppy fields. Opium production in fact accounts for 60% of Afghanistan’s economy and fuels the insurgency.

  33. 34 ajmal karimi
    January 28, 2010 at 17:46

    There was not any terrorist in Afghanistan and there will be no terrorist in Afghanistan, Afghans are the people living for their relegion culture and tradition, they way taleban are, i think this is the time for westerns to come out of afghanistan otherwise its gonna be very very tough fot them to come out in some years, once all afghans start Jihad against westerns then there will be another Vietnam for them

  34. 35 Nigel
    January 28, 2010 at 17:56

    Oh Lord! Being on an American blacklist is probably a big honour for Mullah Omar, second only to being Martyred while fighting the US.

  35. 36 K.Balakumaran
    January 28, 2010 at 19:48

    Taliban a different sort of Terrorists and an ally of Al Qaeda.They cannot be put in equal footing and compare with IRA. Taliban feared that they will be eliminated if the war on Terror continues and their main aim is to Islamise the world.They will be always a threat to U.S and U.K.They wanted to impose an Iranian style system everywhere.Even if they form the Govt with the help of negotiations eventually they will take over the country by force and intimidation.then the world have to go back to where they started in Afghanistan.If a human leg is rotten what you would do,you have to do the same with Terrorists threaten the world.It is like disease which can only be cured by using extra ordinary force.Weed killer is used to wipe out weeds.then in that land no weeds grow.but if you let some weeds to survive they will multiply again.

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