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Thread: Reconciliation and COIN in Afghanistan

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    Default Reconciliation and COIN in Afghanistan

    USIP, Sep 08: Thwarting Afghanistan’s Insurgency: A Pragmatic Approach toward Peace and Reconciliation
    Summary

    - Afghanistan is at a crucial stage of transition. The Taliban, with sanctuaries and a support base in the tribal areas, has grown stronger, relying on a wide network of foreign fighters and Pakistani extremists who operate freely across the Afghan-Pakistani border.

    - Present trends raise serious doubts about whether military solutions alone can defeat the insurgency and stem the expansion of terrorism. In short, reconciliation must also be a key element of comprehensive stabilization in Afghanistan.

    - A multitude of factors suggest that the time is ripe for a reconciliatory process.

    - The Taliban and the Hekmatyar Group will be key challenges to any reconciliation process as long as they enjoy sanctuaries and support outside of Afghanistan.

    - An examination of past attempts at reconciliation with the Taliban reveals that the process has lacked consistency. The Afghan government and its international partners have offered conflicting messages, and there has been no consensual policy framework through which to pursue reconciliation in a cohesive manner.

    - The goal of reconciliation in Afghanistan must be to achieve peace and long-term stability under the Afghan Constitution with full respect for the rule of law, social justice, and human rights. To successfully meet this goal, Afghanistan’s reconciliation program must be carefully targeted and guided by a clear set of principles.

    - A comprehensive and coordinated political reconciliation process must be started. At the same time, significant progress must be made on the security front and on the international (regional) front. Without security and stability or cooperation from Afghanistan’s neighbors, reconciliation will not occur.

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    Council Member Featherock's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link. I don't think any plans to 'win' in Afghanistan can afford not to include robust reconciliation efforts, including allowing Taliban/ACM fighters to come in from the cold without reprisal (assuming they haven't committed any crimes against humanity).

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    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default I don't see how ...

    You would reconcile with the same ones who gave sanctuary to AQ prior to 9/11. And if we did this the point of Operation During Freedom would have been ... exactly ... what?

    Compounding this is the emergence of the TTP in Pakistan, led by Baitullah Mehsud, who have clearly said that they are globalists, and you have an even bigger problem than before 9/11.

    Reconciliation with this band of criminals is going to accomplish exactly what?
    Last edited by Danny; 09-18-2008 at 09:16 PM. Reason: Spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny View Post
    Reconciliation with this band of criminals is going to accomplish exactly what?
    One might have said the same thing about the Provisional IRA and the Good Friday Agreement, or for that matter those ex-Baathists and sundry other Sunni ex-insurgents currently now receiving USG support as part of the al-Anbar (etc) Awakening in Iraq.

    There are Taliban, and there are Taliban. A key aspect of coalition and GoA COIN efforts should be to try to peel away the soft-liners and those motivated by a complex web of local, tribal, economic, and other pragmatic considerations from the hardline radical Islamist ideologues.

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    Default Different

    No, one may not say the same thing about the Sunnis in Anbar, for instance. They fought AQ, the Taliban gave AQ safe haven. The Sunnis fought primarily for reasons other than religious, the Taliban, and in particular the TTP, fight for reasons purely religious. The Anbar awakening occurred alongside or after the most powerful tribes had already turned on AQ, and the Taliban have yet to express any disdain at all for AQ. To the contrary. They have called them brothers.

    The analogy breaks down quickly, and so my question stands.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny View Post
    The analogy breaks down quickly, and so my question stands.
    Not quite so quickly--certainly a significant number of those who are now part of the Sons of Iraq were active in the earlier Sunni insurgency and in attacks against US personnel, and a portion were members of the various Islamic State of Iraq militias that were formal allies of AQI.

    Moreover, many members of the current Afghan government, parliament, and local government administration were members of the Taliban or Taliban governmental administration at the time of 9/11.

    I'm not suggesting that reconciliation with Mullah Omar is possible. I am suggesting that a significant portion of the neo-Taliban rank-and-file may not be primarily motivated by the grand ideological cause of armed jihad against the West, and can be potentially neutralized with some adroit politics. Indeed, one of the problems with the DDR and especially DIAG programmes in Afghanistan appears to be that this group has been rather poorly targeted.

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    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default Alliances

    Well, the alliances in Anbar were ad hoc arrangements involving every rogue element across the planet, including AQ, AAS, former Ba'athists, unemployed teenagers, etc. It wasn't an alliance of belief. My own son killed Somalians, Chechens, "men with slanted eyes," and others.

    The alliance between the Taliban and AQ is one of world view. The proof is that AQ found safe haven inside Afghanistan prior to 9/11. The ad hoc arrangement in Anbar was forced and quickly broke down.

    I'll tell you what. I expect to see a significant uprising of Taliban fighting and killing AQ and Tehrik-i-Taliban when Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute or Cal Tech announces that pigs have learned to fly. Beyond that, if any significant uprising takes hold and drives AQ out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, I'll spread mayonnaise on my hat and take a picture of me eating it and post it on my web site with a caption that links to this discussion thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny View Post
    I'll tell you what. I expect to see a significant uprising of Taliban fighting and killing AQ and Tehrik-i-Taliban when Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute or Cal Tech announces that pigs have learned to fly. Beyond that, if any significant uprising takes hold and drives AQ out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, I'll spread mayonnaise on my hat and take a picture of me eating it and post it on my web site with a caption that links to this discussion thread.
    I hope you had fun with that, but it really doesn't pertain to the issue at hand. What is being suggested is that some of the Taliban's support can be peeled away.

    It is hardly unusual to find former Taliban having switched sides—it happens literally every day, albeit often for murky reasons.

    But that's COIN. Lots of murk.

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    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default Salaam

    A sense of humor, my friend. A sense of humor.

    I can't believe that you cited Salaam. It is exactly the wrong example and proves my point.

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2008/...-abdul-salaam/

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2008/...-of-musa-qala/
    Last edited by Danny; 09-19-2008 at 03:14 AM. Reason: Added followup link ...

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    So, is the the answer to kill everyone?

    In the end, successful insurgency involves sitting down at a table whose guts you hate and you need to include them in the "solution".

    I think that there are very few structural (I get to use a new word, yay!!!) insurgents/revolutionaries, that actually need to be made room temperature.

    If Galula and others are correct, we should be able to separate the rebels with a cause from the hard-cases and then kill, isolate or make them irrelevant.

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    The coalition in Afghanistan has had some success in getting a few Taliban leaders to defect. IMO, such cooption is better than declaring no compromise which forces one to track them all down and kill them - probably impossible and counterproductive in the end. You need the carrot and the stick for success - and reconciliation and rehabilitation of former enemies is an important part of the carrot.

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    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default Killing everyone?

    Of course the solution is not killing everyone. Most Afghans are not fighting. The estimation is that there are 8000 - 20000 fighters in the South and East. We might be able to peel away a small percentage of them, but most of these fighters fight for reasons religious and world view, versus the largely indigenous insurgency in Anbar. When you think of Afghanistan, forget the Anbar awakening. It won't happen.

    And even the ones that we peel away won't turn their guns on the hard core Taliban and AQ. Won't happen. Simply won't. I'll eat my hat if it does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    The coalition in Afghanistan has had some success in getting a few Taliban leaders to defect. IMO, such cooption is better than declaring no compromise which forces one to track them all down and kill them - probably impossible and counterproductive in the end. You need the carrot and the stick for success - and reconciliation and rehabilitation of former enemies is an important part of the carrot.
    Earlier thread on Pulling Taliban Leaders into Government?.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Clarification through Cluttered thoughts

    If the overall guidance is to convert or coopt whomever you can without regard to their historic practices, than not sure I agree.

    If however we're talking about using those you have found those within the larger society who's opinions you can trust, then use them to determine which leaders were Tali just because the Taliban were in control and thus When the Roman's are here be Roman; Thats where I think you find the good side switches that could last.

    If someone learns to play the system they are in well enough to be able to protect themselves and the interests of those who depend on them I'm not sure that's such a bad thing. Means their Adaptable. Key would seem to be figuring out how to know which is which.
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    Default Is the fix top down or bottom up

    Help me out here, we went into Afghanistan to kill those who perpretrated 9/11 and numerous other acts of war against the West and even their own people.

    In the process of doing so we accidentlly acquired care taker status of a nation-state was that was a non-functioning nation in most respects. We quickly established a central government of meager means to exert control over its domain, and since then we have with some success expanded the central government's capability to exert it authority throughout Afghanistan (obviously a long ways from mission success). You can argue our mission to kill those who attacked us on 9/11 has been derailed to a large extent by the efforts to build a nation, but we won't go down that path, if the stated strategy is to build an effective nation are we on the right track?

    If your you're stated goal is to empower the government of Afghanistan to reject deny terrorists safehaven (along with numerous other objectives related to economics, security, etc.), the clear intent then is to empower the central government to do this.

    As stated by others, the concern about the Sons of Iraq, is that organizations are being empowered by the coalition, not the government, and these organizations in some cases challenge State authority. This is a bottom up approach, which is counter productive to a top down approach (working through the HN central government, regardless of how flaky it may be).

    While all COIN is local (to a point), we should empower the government to empower these local organizations to defend and govern themselves. With this approach these local entities become an extension of government power, which is what our objective is, unless we're supporting the insurgents.

    If the government of Afghanistan is reaching out and faciitating reconciliation more power to them, but if it is the coalition I think we need to take a step back and reassess.

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    One of the key factors in any successful COIN op is to attract defectors and surrenders. This isn't happening in Afghanistan...no incentives are being created...and the truth is the bad guys don't necessarily think they are losing...once they begin to think that, some may want to jump ship...it's the Afghan way.

    But to say the majority or to imply that the majority of the TB are religious ideologues is inaccurate...some are just fighting because of tribal isssues, some for a job...some because they don't understand what the situation is...mark my words, there will be no success in Afghanistan without defections, surrenders, and some kind of reconciliation...

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    Default Karzai seeks Saudi aid in peace talks with Taiban

    "September 30, 2008
    Associated Press

    KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan President Hamid Karzai said today he has asked the king of Saudi Arabia to help facilitate peace talks with the Taliban in order to bring an end to the Afghan conflict.

    Karzai said there has not yet been any negotiations, only requests for help. But he said that Afghan officials have traveled to both Saudi Arabia and to Pakistan in hopes of ending the conflict.

    "For the last two years, I've sent letters to the king of Saudi Arabia, and I've sent messages, and I requested from him as the leader of the Islamic world, for the security and prosperity of Afghanistan and for reconciliation in Afghanistan ... he should help us," Karzai said."

    Interesting. For more -

    http://www.military.com/news/article...tml?ESRC=eb.nl

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    Taliban to split itself from Al Qaeda and seek peace?


    Taliban leaders are holding Saudi-brokered talks with the Afghan government to end the country's bloody conflict -- and are severing their ties with al Qaeda, sources close to the historic discussions have told CNN.

    The militia, which has been intensifying its attacks on the U.S.-led coalition that toppled it from power in 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, has been involved four days of talks hosted by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, says the source.

    The talks -- the first of their kind aimed at resolving the lengthy conflict in Afghanistan -- mark a significant move by the Saudi leadership to take a direct role in Afghanistan, hosting delegates who have until recently been their enemies.

    They also mark a sidestepping of key "war on terror" ally Pakistan, frequently accused of not doing enough to tackle militants sheltering on its territory, which has previously been a conduit for talks between the Saudis and Afghanistan.

    According to the source, fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar -- high on the U.S. military's most-wanted list -- was not present, but his representatives were keen to stress the reclusive cleric is no longer allied to al Qaeda.

    Details of the Taliban leader's split with al Qaeda have never been made public before, but the new claims confirm what another source with an intimate knowledge of the militia and Mullah Omar has told CNN in the past.
    More at the link.

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    Default Update on Saudi Taliban Conference

    Here are two articles from the Telegraph and Financial Times.

    Afghan president offers Taliban a role in governing country
    President Hamid Karzai has offered Taliban leaders the possibility of positions in his government if they agree to a peace deal which could bring fighting to an end.
    By Nick Meo in Kabul
    Last Updated: 7:03PM BST 11 Oct 2008

    The offer was made through his brother Qayoun at a secret meeting in Saudi Arabia of which Britain was aware.

    Britain has been encouraging the Kabul government to talk to its Taliban enemies for more than two years and the Americans are thought to be coming round to the idea of a deal which would end the costly war in Afghanistan.

    But The Sunday Telegraph has learned that the allies would insist that the Taliban would have to split with al-Qaeda and provide information on international terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan as the price of a deal.

    Under the Saudi Arabian initiative more than a dozen former senior Taliban figures travelled to the kingdom with the approval of President Hamid Karzai's government. ....
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...g-country.html

    US open to Taliban peace talks
    By James Blitz in London
    Published: October 10 2008 03:00 | Last updated: October 10 2008 03:00

    Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said last night that Washington could "ultimately" contemplate the idea of negotiating with the Taliban to secure a political settlement in Afghanistan, if the Afghan government were to pursue such talks.

    In comments that add to the growing sense across Nato that the alliance will never achieve a comprehensive military victory in Afghanistan, Mr Gates said a political settlement with the Taliban was conceivable.

    However, he insisted the US would never negotiate with al-Qaeda forces, who are also seeking to destabilise Hamid Karzai's Afghan government.

    "There has to be ultimately, and I'll underscore ultimately, reconciliation as part of a political outcome to this," Mr Gates told reporters at a summit of Nato defence ministers in Budapest. "That's ultimately the exit strategy for all of us."

    But when listing conditions for reconciliation, he said: "We have to be sure that we're not talking about any al-Qaeda."
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/66faed7a-9...077b07658.html

    One wonders how much events - the economic problems - are now driving foreign policy decisions.

    Of course, these talks may come to nothing. After looking at the Taliban's history a bit extensively today and tonite, I find it hard to see why anyone would want them in a government. Despiration, I suppose.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Post It would be kinda funny it it weren't so serious

    how media tend to try to fit anything they hear into their own boxes.

    With perhaps the exception of the Brit General whom I have know idea what he was thinking; most everyone else is simply talking about nothing more than what we already try to do.

    Differentiate between the really bad guys and those who simply took on an affiliation in order to survive and/or protect their own. Much like Iraq just because someone belonged to the Bath party did not necessarily mean they were evil, but rather in many cases they had little choice should they want to at least be able to have some say in the lives of their families/Tribes/ etc.

    How about we look at the number of Lawyers who belong to an organization because of its status in the legal world, or Holly/Bollywooders who join org's for what it represents status symbol wise, or people who join the HOA so that they can at least try to fight for their right to put a sign in their yard

    Long and short: This ain't rocket science and Its probably about time some stop trying to make it so
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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