It’s been nearly two decades since the U.S. first began military operations in Afghanistan, designed to remove the Taliban from power, and prevent al-Qaida from using the country as a base to plan terror attacks.
Are we any closer to peace?
A temporary truce is set to begin this weekend. The “reduction in violence” is planned for 7 days, and seen as a crucial step for the Taliban, U.S., and Afghan governments to prove to each other that they could control their forces if an actual peace deal were to be negotiated.
In an op-ed published in the New York Times this week, Sirajuddin Haqqani, a senior Taliban leader wrote that although the Taliban really thinks the “killing and maiming must stop,” it ain’t gonna happen unless the U.S. completely pulls out of Afghanistan.
Bringing home the troops does seem to be an objective President Trump shares, as he said in his latest State of the Union he would “finally end America’s longest war and bring our troops back home.”
But he might not have meant ALL all. Time reported that a peace deal with the Taliban could include allowing a counter-terrorism force of around 8,000 to remain in “secret annexes” in Afghanistan.
But according to Haqqani’s op-ed in the New York Times, the U.S. must leave completely. “The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand,” he writes.
Haqqani also says any worries about Afghanistan becoming once again an incubator for Islamic terror is waaaaay overblown.
“We are also aware of concerns about the potential of Afghanistan being used by disruptive groups to threaten regional and world security. But these concerns are inflated: Reports about foreign groups in Afghanistan are politically motivated exaggerations by the warmongering players on all sides of the war.”
Haqqani wants to assure everyone “It is not in the interest of any Afghan to allow such groups to hijack our country and turn it into a battleground. We have already suffered enough from foreign interventions. We will take all measures in partnership with other Afghans to make sure the new Afghanistan is a bastion of stability and that nobody feels threatened on our soil.”
Your friendly neighborhood Taliban.
But even CNN (CNN!) questions the good nature of Haqqani. In an amazingly click-baity headline, CNN screams: “What the New York Times didn’t tell readers about its Taliban op-ed is shocking.”
Per CNN, “The Times described Haqqani as “the deputy leader of the Taliban.” But this bland descriptor doesn’t capture who Haqqani really is. According to the FBI, Haqqani is a “specially designated global terrorist.” The FBI is offering $5 million for information leading directly to his arrest.
The US State Department is also offering a reward of up to $10 million for information that brings Haqqani to justice. The only terrorist who has a higher reward is the current leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Will the Times be offering Zawahiri an op-ed spot next?”
First things first, however. Let’s see if we can get through a 7-day “reduction in violence.” That sounds promising…