Deal or Die

By lex, on June 15th, 2010

That’s the offer apparently being made to the Haqqani network in Afghanistan, according to the Long War Journal:

Coalition and Afghan forces killed a Haqqani Network commander who is known to help al Qaeda fighters enter Afghanistan and carry out attacks in the region.

The commander, Fazil Subhan, was killed along with an undisclosed number of Haqqani Network fighters last week during a two-day-long military operation in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, the International Security Assistance Force said in a press release. Subhan was “known to facilitate foreign fighters” in eastern Afghanistan. ISAF often uses the term “foreign fighters” to describe al Qaeda operatives.

Subhan and his fighters were holed up “in fortified fighting positions in an area known for ambush attacks against international troops, southwest of Kowte Kheyl in the Shamul district” when the battle took place. An ammunition and weapons depot was also destroyed during the clearing operation.

That’s the dying part. The surprising bit – at least to me – was the apparent willingness of coalition military leadership to make peace offerings:

The Haqqani Network has been implicated in some of the biggest terror attacks in the Afghan capital city of Kabul, including the January 2008 suicide assault on the Serena hotel, the February 2009 assault on Afghan ministries, and the July 2008 and October 2009 suicide attacks against the Indian embassy. American intelligence agencies confronted the Pakistani government with evidence, including communications intercepts, which proved the ISI’s direct involvement in the 2008 Indian embassy bombing.

As baddies go, the Haqqanis and the equally bloody-minded rabble led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are about as bad as they get, but apparently the coalition is undissuaded:

Despite Siraj’s ties with al Qaeda, and the Haqqani Network’s use of suicide attacks, some top US military commanders have stated that Jalaluddin Haqqani, his father, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, another supporter of al Qaeda, are “absolutely salvageable” and ripe for negotiations.

“The HIG already have members in Karzai’s government, and it could evolve into a political party, even though Hekmatyar may be providing al Qaeda leaders refuge in Kunar,” Major General Michael Flynn, the top military intelligence official in Afghanistan, told The Atlantic in April 2010. “Hekmatyar has reconcilable ambitions. As for the Haqqani network, I can tell you they are tired of fighting, but are not about to give up. They have lucrative business interests to protect: the road traffic from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to Central Asia.”

Sir Graeme Lamb, a senior adviser to General McChrystal, echoed Flynn’s view on Hekmatyar and Haqqani, and discounted the groups’ close ties to al Qaeda.

“Haqqani and Hekmatyar are pragmatists tied to the probability of outcomes,” Lamb also told The Atlantic. “With all the talk of Islamic ideology, this is the land of the deal.”

That’s assuming we have 1) something to offer, and 2) a seat at the table.

I’m just not so sure that either is true any more.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Best of Neptunus Lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Neptunus Lex

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