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Parsing the So-Called Negotiations in Doha

Getting past the New York Times Spin

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/16/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-agreement.html

1/20/20 – If, after reading this article in the NY Times, you find that you don’t understand what they are talking about. Don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with you. If you don’t understand what the authors are saying, it’s because neither do they. Sit back, have a cup of your favorite beverage, it’s just the NY Times blowing bubbles about Afghanistan again. It is the same NY Times that behaves as if it is a revelation that the US Government has been fully aware of the corruption and incompetence that characterizes its’ operations in Afghanistan. They no doubt don’t yet know the same is true about Iraq, Syria and Libya. But don’t fret, your investments in Raytheon, General Dynamics and all of the rest if the military industrial complex are safe. Nothing is going to change. One year from now, America will still be in all of these wars. Jezail.org guarantees it. What the article does not say is this: Afghanistan is basically a dead carcass and the negotiations are about carving it up and devouring it. “Reduction of violence” or “stopping violence” is not the main meal of the “negotiations”.  At best, it is a garnish.

America is NOT getting out of Afghanistan. America is reducing its’ visible presence in Afghanistan by hiring mercenaries, conducting a more vigorous air war and buying off the Pakistani military and anybody else they can buy off. America’s role may be shifting but that only means that the nature of the rackets that have been the underlying US “interests” are shifting. The only thing that is changing are the appearances. That is being accomplished by the use of rhetoric in the media and “public diplomacy”, now a fancy word for propaganda typically aimed at Americans to consume. So jezail.org has decided to examine some of the statements made in this NY Times article. We will not do it line by line however. That would be abusive of the reader and we are not sadists. However, the level of mistruth in this article needs to be pointed out so more people can begin to understand where America has come to in 2020. Then we will lay out the practical realities of what is very likely really going on.

Let’s start with the headline: “Taliban Offer to Reduce Violence in Afghanistan Ahead of Deal with the US”.

“Reduce violence?” What does that mean? How does one measure that? Isn’t this more of an indication of what jezail.org has been saying all along? The so called Taliban negotiators don’t actually “control” forces in the field. They never really did. Since the discovery of the death of Omar and the fact that his death was hidden for some years from Taliban rank and file, jezail.org has been emphatically vocal about the lack of a firm hand on the rudder for Taliban leadership and their Pakistani masters. Reduce violence? What a dismal carrot! They cannot even define a time period for this weak offer. They don’t actually know. The fact is that the Taliban negotiators are not in control of what happens in the field. The Pakistani ISI may be to some extent. They can provide weapons, money, sanctuary and even some officers. They ca, to some extent, steer things through selective supply. But they are clearly not in control and that control was badly damaged after the revelation of Omar’s death. Events have borne this fact out with the repeated bombings in Kabul at the most delicate points of these so-called negotiations.

Then, there is this from the NY Times article:

“Suhail Shaheen, said the two negotiating teams had talked about details of ‘the signing of the agreement and the ceremony for it’.” A ceremony? There is no deal yet and already they are talking about a ceremony? Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse? Who would actually attend such an event? How would they celebrate this, blow up a ceremonial truck bomb? Should one have their flak vest cleaned and pressed for such an event?

Oh, but there is more:

“The issue of whether to agree to a cease-fire before the departure of the roughly 13,000 American forces and thousands more NATO troops has been an existential one for the Taliban, who see violence as their most important leverage. The insurgents spent more than a month deliberating Washington’s demand.”

Existential? These two sentences are mind benders. (Don’t read them again. It might cause dizzyness.) We see 2 possible meanings here. The first is that the Taliban can’t live without a US presence in Afghanistan. There is some truth to this in that the Taliban openly claim that they get about half of their “budget” from the US supply line across Pakistan. The US has always been a Taliban gravy train. Without the US, would the Taliban starve? Perhaps, these strange sentences may be a reference to the fact that the Taliban was originally propagated by a US diplomat who was also moonlighting as a lobbyist for the UNOCAL/TAPI pipeline. It was her vigorous advocacy that launched the Taliban from being nobodies to the monsters they are today. Taliban officials still make public statements proclaiming their continued commitment to the TAPI deal. So they still foresee a useful American role in Afghanistan. The other possible meaning is somewhat opposite. It could be that the statements mean that if the Taliban don’t get the US out of Afghanistan, the organization will die. Not bloody likely. On the whole, this jem from the NY Times elicits the image of some Talib sitting on a rock somewhere and thinking: “Americans, can’t live with them, can’t live without them.”

If all of this seems like rubbish, that’s because we are trying to parse the NY Times. If you do this on a regular basis, you are at risk of becoming an alcoholic. We don’t want this. So we will stop. Instead we will shift gears and go into what we think is happening in the so-called negotiations. Ok, time to put the drink down.

It is often claimed by Zalmay Khalilzad that the negotiations are about “stopping the violence”. As previously pointed out, It was Zalmay Khalilzad who has been the architect of the NUG government, and who chose its’ leaders and who has been the one major policy maker spanning the entire American Afghan war. One might fairly ask, why, after two decades of war, does “stopping violence” become a priority for this man? The answer is: because it isn’t.

The “negotiations” are about what the war is about, power and money. Much of it is theater such as the thinly disguised Taliban delegation that, in fact, are more an instrument of Pakistani foreign policy. The power issue largely has to do with the extent of control Pakistan will have over Afghanistan. That effects the money issues. How much will Pakistan be able too loot or extract from Afghanistan? this has been openly discussed by senior Pakistani military officials on Pakistani TV.  How much will Pakistan be able to continue to extract from America? If the US were to completely leave the region, the standard of living in Pakistan would plummet.

In fact getting the US out of Afghanistan was never an objective of any party to the negotiation. For their part, the Taliban have said publicly that they still want the US to continue to develop the TAPI pipeline. That’s a winner and a money maker for a Taliban government in Kabul as it is for the present Kabul regime. This virtually guarantees a continual logistical train which will continue to be a bloated source of revenue for all parties to the agreement. Were events to follow that path, it would not be surprising to find Khalilzad working for it. NGO’s would blossom. You can bet the US taxpayer will end up footing the bill through USAID among other government sources of unregulated cash.

A continual sticking point is that the US still insists on having a continued military presence in Afghanistan. The stated claim is to provide a way to battle “terrorist” camps they predict will appear as soon as a peace agreement is signed. However most observers believe that the real reason for a continued US military presence is to “project power” at Iran from its’ eastern border and keep it out of world trade utilizing US bases in Afghanistan. The Taliban, understandably aren’t having any of this and will not back down on this point.

Another sticking point for the negotiation is the demand that the Taliban sit down and talk with the Kabul regime. In the past, the Taliban have balked. Now, it appears that “progress” has been made by delinking this issue from the first part of the negotiation. Khalilzad has apparently gotten the Taliban to agree to subsequent talks. Jezail.org thinks that this is a ruse. It is a way to pretend to care about the Kabul regime when the real concern is the US “interests” previously described. If the US negotiators can get what they want from the Taliban, who needs Ghani and co.? After three consecutive US rigged elections, and the present electoral stalemate, which Kabul negotiators would actually show up in Doha? Ghani’s? Abdullah’s? Heckmatyer’s?

As popular acceptance of the present Kabul regime across Afghanistan wanes, what legitimacy would a NUG delegation actually have? When one stops to consider that it was Zalmay Khalilzad who is the founding architect of the NUG constitution as well as the man who personally selected their leadership, aren’t the Taliban already talking to the NUG regime in Kabul?

Khalilzad, by himself, is in no way capable of sorting these issues out. If there is any serious considerations to any of the major themes jezail.org has identified, they are not being discussed between the delegations. They are being quietly discussed in corporate suites and board rooms from Pakistan to Doha to London, Washington DC and Dallas Texas. A few very select Americans will be involved and they will never put out a press release or public statement about what is decided. One thing can be said about those decisions however, they have nothing to do with “reducing violence”. There is no money in peace for these people. There is in war. So keep those flak vests handy.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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