Taliban Factions and Obama’s Negotiation Intentions with “Moderates”

Mullah Salam Zaeef, former Taliban Foriegn Minister represents the negotiation with Afghan Govt. in Saudi Arabia

Mullah Salam Zaeef, former Taliban Foriegn Minister represents the negotiation with Afghan Govt. in Saudi Arabia

Started since last year, the idea of negotiations with “moderate” Taliban to separate them from Al-Qaeda seems attractive, but far from ground realities. President Obama’s Administration after deeply analyzing the region announced the new US policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. His administration is still unclear about whom will they talk to, and on what conditions? Recently, the rounds of table-talk behind the curtain with Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami also went without any positive outcome.

Question rises here how will the US talk to a them. Who will represent the militants? Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid in a recent interview with CNN’s Nic Robertson said farmer Taliban officials taking part in negotiations with Afghan Government in Saudia Arabia do not represent Taliban.

There are several groups and divisions among Taliban militants fighting in Southern and Southeastern parts of the country. Militants operating in Southern parts are mostly affiliated with the Qandhari faction of Taliban led by Mullah Omer, who is believed to command the militant operations from Quetta city of Southeastern Pakistan. The most influential faction, the Qandhari group operates in Southern provinces of Qandhar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Helmand, Nimruz and central provinces of Ghazni and Maidan Wardak. The other major group fighting in provinces on Afghan-Pak border is the Haqqani faction led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is believed to be behind the suicide attack on Indian Embassy in Kabul last year. The Haqqani faction mostly operates in Kunar, Nooristan, Khost, Paktia and Paktika provinces. The third division is those fighters that infiltrate from the tribal areas of Pakistan. They are affiliated with the Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan, led by Baitullah Mehsood. This group has conducted many deadly suicide attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan. They are also behind the targeting of vehicles that carry supplies for NATO from Peshawar. The fourth prominent insurgents are the Hizb e Islami of Gulbadin Hekmatyar that conducted the deadliest attack on French soldiers near capital Kabul. This group operates against NATO troops in Logar, Nangarhar, Laghman, Kapisa provinces, capital Kabul and some Northern insurgency-hit areas.

The US war strategists and policy makers should know the fact that negotiations would not be so easy that they perceive. There is not a sole representative body of Taliban to deal with. There are different smugglers, war lords and criminal groups also operate under the name of Taliban. Gangs with the business of drug trade are also involved in insurgency under different agendas.

Insurgents’ foremost demand is that Taliban would never compromise on withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan. At the second phase, they may ask the Afghan Government for power sharing in the areas of their stronghold with conditions of their Sharia and other rules–that happened after the Pak-Govt. deal with Sufi Muhammad in Swat following nowadays successful military operation and lesson for Obama Administration that negotiations would never work out.

Today Taliban are on run on both sides of the border. Media has not reported any major incident carried out by Taliban in the last two months in Afghanistan, particularly after the operation of Pak Army in Swat. NATO plans an aggressive operation against militants in summer. This should and may prove the war at Taliban to a winning point, deciding the fate of the war on terror.

Obama Administration should understand that there nothing such as “moderate” among Taliban insurgents. They can be only crashed because they don’t beleive on negotiations and democratic values.

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