Terrorists may say they are only going after certain groups that they are ‘justified’ in killing: most terrorists are liars.
What do you make of the recent ‘peace’ talks between the US and the Taliban in Afghanistan? Are they a good idea? Will they work? Is Afghanistan on the brink of tranquility after decades of war?
My answers: not much, no, no and no.
I have to recognise that the US finds itself in an untenable position. It has had forces on the ground in Afghanistan since shortly after the attacks of 9/11, ostensibly to locate and kill Usama bin Laden and eliminate Al Qaeda, the terrorist group he led and which was behind the airliner attacks on that fateful day.
Almost two decades on a few things have been accomplished, most notably the assassination of bin Laden, although he held out for almost a full decade before he was killed at his compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan, by US special forces. Aside from that, Afghanistan is not better off: in fact in 2018, deaths from terrorist attacks rose 59 (!) percent when compared to 2017.
No one wants foreign troops on its soil
More specifically, the number of deaths attributed to the Taliban rose by just under 71 per cent, to 6,103, accounting for 38 per cent of all deaths globally. And the US is talking ‘peace’ with these guys??
As I have noted on far too many occasions, the US, and any power that decides to deploy occupation forces abroad, is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. The US had every right to hunt down bin Laden and see that he got his just reward, but the longer it stayed in Afghanistan the more problematic things got. This always happens of course: no one wants foreign troops on its soil.
But, you say, the Taliban have promised not to allow ‘foreign’ terrorist organisations to establish a presence in Afghanistan. That has to count for something, right?
No it does not since the Taliban is clearly the most lethal terrorist group on our planet on its own. Even if no other band is permitted to set up shop, they alone have more than enough resources to cause mayhem and destruction, against ordinary Afghans, for decades to come.
Taliban attack near Afghan parliament
It is also not a great idea to take anything the Taliban says at face value. Here is a case in point. On January 10, 2017 these terrorists authorised a suicide attack in Kabul in which more than 30 people were killed and a further 70 wounded: twin blasts hit a crowded area of the city during the afternoon rush hour near the country’s parliament.
But here is where the disingenuousness comes in. The Taliban issued a statement claiming the attack and said the target had been a minibus carrying staff from the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency.
So, how many NDS officials died? Well, apparently most of the victims were parliamentary staff members, not NDS staff. So much for Taliban targeting abilities.
You see, this is the crux of the matter.
Most terrorist groups could not give a rat’s posterior who dies in an attack. Sure, some organisations, like the Basque ETA, were careful not to kill civilians, but most do not care. Terrorism is all about instilling fear and what better way to do so than to kill average people?
Negotiating with terrorists is a bad idea. Keeping unwanted foreign soldiers in a faraway land for two decades is a bad idea. Withdrawing those forces is a bad idea.
Anyone have a good idea for once?
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- RealPolitik podcast – Canadian intelligence community should continue to focus on Islamic extremist terrorism - September 19, 2020