Washington Post reported last week that members of the Obama
administration are seeking to incorporate the Taliban into the
Afghan government in a way similar to the way Hezbollah
participates in the Lebanese government — maintaining control
over parts of the country and participating in the government as
a minority faction. Witnesses testified this morning before the
House Committee on Foreign Affairs against such a reported
approach to dealing with the Taliban.
The Taliban and Al-Qaeda are “genetically and…
ideologically mixed,” said J. Alexander Thier, director of
Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Thier cited the intermarriages between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda
along with Al-Qaeda’s support for the Taliban’s rise to power in
the 1990s. Frederick Kagan, who also testified this morning,
strongly agreed, “it (a Taliban safe haven) would be almost
certain to provide Al-Qaeda with a haven that we would not be
able to access.” Kagan and Thier also pointed out that
leadership has become increasingly linked to Al-Qaeda during the
current war against the Afghan government and the United States.
Some Democrats and a few Republicans do not want the United
States to fight the Taliban, but rather wish only to fight
Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The implication is that fewer American
forces would be needed, and troops would be used mainly in a more
limited counter-terrorism strategy against Al-Qaeda. While the
Taliban and Al-Qaeda are not identical, the former Taliban
government housed Osama Bin Laden and has killed hundreds of
American troops in the insurgency. Such an approach to co-op the
Taliban seems like overly-wishful thinking.
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