I thought this was significant enough to share. The author is John McCreary, formerly of the Defense Intelligence Agency. This piece first appeared at http://www.afcea.org/mission/intel/nightwatch.asp
Afghanistan: On 7 October, the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban posted a statement on their website, shahamat.org, saying they pose no threat to the West.
According to Reuters, the statement reads: “We had and have no plan of harming countries of the world, including those in Europe … our goal is the independence of the country and the building of an Islamic state.” the statement went on to say that the Afghan Taliban were prepared for “a long war” if foreign troops “want to colonize the country of proud and pious Afghans under the baseless pretext of a war on terror.”
Comment: The point worth noting is that the Taliban posting reinforces the statement on Sunday by US National Security Advisor Jones that there are fewer than 100 al Qaida in Afghanistan. Al Qaida is not welcome in Afghanistan by either side of the fight. The statement posted on the website is accurate, based on the past eight years. The Taliban resurgence is a home grown development that did not appeal to, rely on or seek Arab or al Qaida help, according to information in the public domain.
After their ouster from Kandahar in 2001, the Taliban openly derided the Arabs of al Qaida and blamed them for the Taliban’s misfortunes. They vowed never to allow the foreigners — especially the haughty, insensitive Arabs — back into Afghanistan, consistent with the history of Pashtun xenophobia. They have been true to that vow ever since, as General Jones confirmed, indirectly.
The premise that Afghanistan would become an al Qaida safe haven under any future government is alarmist and bespeaks a lack of understanding of the Pashtuns on this issue and a superficial knowledge of recent Afghan history.
In December 2001, Omar was ridiculed in public by his own commanders for inviting the “Arabs” and other foreigners, which led to their flight toPakistan. The worst atrocities committed by the vice and virtue cops of the Taliban government were committed by the foreign thugs who accompanied bin Laden, according to media reports at the time. The Afghans did not behave that way against their own people, though they were brutish against the Soviets.
There is no factual basis for presuming that support for international Islamic terror is the norm in Afghanistan, rather than a tragic mistake. More than a thousand years of history reinforces the ethnic trait of visceral hatred of outsiders of all kind. Omar’s experience with the bin Laden and the Arabsrevalidates the ancient wisdom.
See Neustadt and May’s Thinking in Time, Chapter 3, for a discussion of the appropriate uses of reasoning by historic analogy.
Bin Laden and his acolytes were/are exporters of a toxic world view that took root in Germany deeper than in Afghanistan. The Taliban were focused on subjugating recalcitrant Uzbeks and Tajiks of the Northern Alliance, not on exporting terror. No Afghans attacked the World Trade Center.
Even today, Omar and his merry men do not push – as they easily could — the age old idea of a greater Pashtunistan that would join Pakistani Pashtuns with Afghan Pashtuns and would split modern day Pakistan north to south along the Indus River. The point is the security situation could be much, much worse and has been in the past, if the Quetta Shura were as brutish as some claim.
There are no good guys, but any successful strategy in Afghanistan will include the Pashtuns in some kind of power sharing arrangement. No matter who governs in Kabul in the future, bin Laden and al Qaida will not find a safe haven in Afghanistan again because almost all Afghans continue to agree on that point after eight years.