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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/27/10

Can We Let The Indigenous Participants in the Af/Pak War Forge a Peace Deal?

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Despite the recent focus on General Stanley McChrystal and what President Obama would do relative to him, much more has been happening behind the scenes in the Af/Pak war.

For there is no separating Afghanistan with Pakistan, so intricately intertwined and interconnected is their ultimate fates, particularly among the intricate web of forces that operate with impunity across the porous border of the two countries.

We tend to think of the Taliban as a single entity yet there are many Taliban groups aligned by their common Muslim beliefs and all opposed to the American presence but independently led and operating separately from each other. Some Taliban have been aligned with al Qaeda but this connection is based on their mutual antipathy of the Americans rather than their common kinship and heritage i.e. al Qaeda being mostly Arab and the Taliban groups being mostly Pashtun.

Add into this mix the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service and the Pakistani military, both groups sometimes aligned with and supporters of various Taliban groups but under pressure from the Americans to take the fight to the Taliban which tends to muddy their alliances with the latter and often results in retaliatory measures and terrorist strikes by the Taliban in Pakistani cities.

But sensing the Americans leadership disarray in Afghanistan and the belief by the leaders of the ISI and the Pakistani military that the American military campaign "will not succeed" in Afghanistan, these Pakistani leaders reportedly[1] have been meeting secretly with Taliban leaders and surprisingly with Afghan President Hamid Karsai to possibly broker a peace deal in Afghanistan incorporating elements of the Taliban in a post war settlement. The Americans, according to these sources, rather than embracing such a possibility are reportedly worried that they would be left out of the eventual settlement and al Qaeda would still retain a haven in the area.[2]

What Washington fails to recognize is this war can not be settled on its terms. Only the indigenous participants within the Af/Pak arena can successfully engineer and forge a peace deal.

If we really considered our strategic interests in this area (and get over our obsession with al Qaeda) we would realize we have no real dog in this fight in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Our continued presence only exacerbates the situation and hampers an eventual settlement.

And generally, if we stopped meddling in the internal affairs of Muslim countries, got out of the "imperialism" business initiating preemptive wars and occupations in these countries, the whole basis for Muslim terrorism against us would diminish and over time cease to have a reason to exist.

Our folly in Afghanistan, now squarely in the hands of Obama, keeps rickety rumbling along not knowing it is long passed time to head for the exit road. What will it take for that to happen?

[1] "Pakistan Is Said to Pursue a Foothold in Afghanistan", by Jane Perlez, Eric Schmitt and Carlotta Gall, "The New York Times", June 24, 2010.

[2] See footnote #1

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