So, it's come to this. After more than 12 years of the United States being at war in Afghanistan, the Taliban have opened a "political office" in Qatar preparatory to negotiations with the Kabul government's High Peace Council and the US—the culimination of a series of preliminary meetings in various countries leading toward direct peace talks. The principal prerequisite that the US set for the talks is that the Taliban commit to not using Afghanistan as a staging ground for terror attacks abroad. (Khaama Press, BBC News, June 18) Through their website Voice of Jiihad, the Taliban oblige: "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has both military as well as political objectives which are confined to Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate does not wish to harm other countries from its soil and neither will it allow others use Afghan soil to pose a threat to the security of other nations!"
All this comes just as NATO is officially turning over security responsibility for the last 95 districts of Afghanistan to Kabul—primarly, the Taliban heartland in the south. Ostensibly, NATO and the US will just be supporting and training Afghan forces from now until the supposed withdrawal scheduled for the end of 2014. Tellingly, as the handover ceremony was underway in Kabul, a suicide blast near the parliament building a few miles away killed three civilians. Hazara Shi'ite political leader Hajji Mohammed Mohaqeq was apparently the intended target. (Al Arabiya, AFP, NYT, June 18)
Any concern about what power-sharing with the Taliban will mean for the women of Afghanistan, and perceived heretics like the Hazara? Will they be sold down the river in exchange for the Taliban pledging not to shelter al-Qaeda types cooking up terror attacks on the West? As we have repeatedly noted, the jihad against the West is of secondary importance for such militants—after the struggle within Islam between secularism and fundamentalism. Alas, this sinster development, which comes after years of rumors in Afghanistan of actual US collaboration with the Taliban, is likely to be greeted with approval by the anti-war left, and protested by pro-war liberals. It is an echo of the "peace-for-sharia" deal which has dramatically failed to deliver peace in neighboring Pakistan—it has only emboldened the hardliners where their persecution of women and heretics is concerned. It brought sharia, but not peace.
The latest of the near-daily horrific attacks in Pakistan again targeted peasants who dared to raise village militias to defend against the Taliban. On the same day as the Kabul blast and the peace talks announcement, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of hundreds of mourners at the funeral of a village elder in Sher Garh, outside Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing 29 and wounding nearly 60. (The Australian, June 19)
So once again: instead of totalitarian sharia enclaves controlled by Taliban insurgent forces, much of Afghanistan will come under totalitarian sharia enclaves controlled by Taliban collaborationist forces. And, eventually, maybe the whole country. Ah, progress.
All the propaganda about the US defending secularism and women's rights in Afghanistan, even as it collaborated with the erstwhile Northern Alliance war criminals, will now be quietly forgotten. We recall yet again the old anarchist slogan—"Neither your war nor your peace!"