[Marxism] Taliban: we are not a threat to the West

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Oct 8 07:12:23 MDT 2009

Taliban claim they pose no threat to west

Statement on known Taliban website may indicate that leaders are 
retreating from alliance with al-Qaida

by Jason Burke and James Sturcke

Taliban fighters pose with weapons on 19 August. The leadership has 
posted a statement online saying they pose no threat to other countries. 
Photograph: Reuters

The Taliban have issued an English-language statement claiming they pose 
no international threat – a move that will fuel the debate among 
American and European policymakers over whether the hardline Afghan 
insurgent group can be split away from the international militants of 

The statement came amid reports that Barack Obama's military advisers 
are shifting the focus of US operations to target al-Qaida in Pakistan 
while downplaying the threat posed to America by the Taliban.

Published on the eighth anniversary of the first coalition strikes on 
Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban communique declares the militants' aim 
to be the "obtainment of independence and establishment of an Islamic 

"We did not have any agenda to harm other countries including Europe nor 
we have such agenda today," said the statement, which was posted on a 
known Taliban website on Wednesday.

"Still, if you want to turn the country of the proud and pious Afghans 
into a colony, then know that we have an unwavering determination and 
have braced for a prolonged war."

Though the statement's authenticity is yet to be confirmed, the claim 
would appear to be evidence at the very least that the Taliban are 
seeking to influence the strategic argument in the west.

The statements may equally be a sign that senior Taliban figures are 
reassessing the movement's longstanding – though often tense – alliance 
with al-Qaida.

In a recent exchange of emails with the Guardian, a Taliban spokesman 
avoided questions on the relationship between the Afghan insurgents and 
Osama bin Laden. The spokesman said the Taliban closely monitored public 
opinion in western Europe and policy arguments in the US.

As Obama continues to reassess the Afghan war strategy, advisers have 
told the New York Times that he had been presented with an approach that 
might not require the increase in troop numbers in Afghanistan called 
for by the most senior US and Nato general in the region, General 
Stanley McChrystal.

Obama will today meet with the secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, and 
vice-president, Joe Biden, who has been arguing for months that Pakistan 
is a greater priority than Afghanistan.

The New York Times said that Clinton and the defence secretary, Robert 
Gates, have warned that the Taliban in Afghanistan remain linked to 
al-Qaida and would give its fighters haven again if the Taliban regained 
control of all or large parts of Afghanistan.

"Clearly, al-Qaida is a threat not only to the US homeland and American 
interests abroad, but it has a murderous agenda," one senior 
administration official said. "We want to destroy its leadership, its 
infrastructure and its capability."

The official contrasted that with the Taliban, which the administration 
has begun to define as an indigenous group that aspires to reclaim 
territory and rule the country, but does not express ambitions of 
attacking the US. "When the two [groups] are aligned it's mainly on the 
tactical front," the official said, adding that al-Qaida had fewer than 
100 fighters in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, the White House confirmed that Obama received McChrystal's 
troop reinforcements request a week ago. It is said to include a range 
of options, from adding as few as 10,000 additional combat troops to 
McChrystal's strong preference for as many as 40,000.

The renewed attention on Pakistan comes amid a recognition that the US 
can neither win the eight-year-old conflict in Afghanistan nor succeed 
more broadly against al-Qaida without help from Islamabad.

Obama and some of his key aides are increasingly pointing to recent 
successes against al-Qaida through targeted missile strikes and raids in 
Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere. Obama said on Tuesday that al-Qaida had 
"lost operational capacity" as a result.

Serious doubts about the Afghan government have led some to question 
whether an effective counterinsurgency mission is possible.

McChrystal's recommended approach calls for additional troops in 
Afghanistan for a counterinsurgency campaign to defeat the Taliban, 
build up the central government and deny al-Qaida its refuge.

McChrystal, whose plan is reminiscent of Bush's troop "surge" in Iraq in 
2008, says extra troops are crucial to turn around a war that probably 
will be won or lost during the next 12 months.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, an alternative favoured most 
prominently by Biden would keep the American force in Afghanistan at 
around the 68,000 already authorised, including the 21,000 more troops 
Obama ordered this year, but increase the use of surgical strikes with 
Predator drones and special forces.

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