My Life with the Taliban author on Wikileaks

My Life with the talibanOne of the documents released by Wikileaks (reprinted in The Guardian) includes a US embassy cable regarding the views of Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef a former Taliban minister and author of My Life with the Taliban.

Zaeef, who has tried to act as peace broke and has become an important liaison between the United States, Karzai, and the Taliban, calls for a political solution in Afghanistan, telling the US that “peace is the only option for Afghanistan.” He went on to say that there was too much “talk and good intentions” and not enough “action, strategy, and sincerity.”

The cable written in February 2010 reveals other interesting perspectives from Zaeef about Afghanistan, the Taliban, and Karzai. Zaeef believes that had not the Taliban intervened in the 1990s, Afghanistan would have been divided between Iran and Pakistan. In order to save Afghanistan from disintegration and to clear the country of warlords it needed to be especially harsh but had it remained in power, it would have gradually become more moderate. He also suggested that the Taliban are not misogynists, who oppose women’s education and the right to return. If peace was made with the Taliban, the old strict rules would not return.

Zaeef is also critical of Karzai, who he sees as deceiving all sides, telling him that he wants foreign troops out but telling the US he wants them to remain. Ultimately, Zaeef argues, Karzai is interested in maintaining power and sees the presence of US troops as allowing him to do so.

The cable also includes a comment about the embassy’s question regarding how best to work with elements of the Taliban:

6. (S) Responding to our reference to extreme versus moderate Taliban elements, Zaeef suggested that we should instead differentiate the Taliban by whether they choose force or peace to achieve their objectives. Ultimately, however, the armed Taliban obey the orders of their political leaders; therefore, only a political solution will work, reasoned Zaeef. Furthermore, while Americans have attempted to make the war an international cause, it is “clearly America’s war” and the Iranians, Russians, Chinese, and Pakistanis, and even the British, are content for various reasons to see you mired in a quagmire here, he said. Foreigners have never won a military victory in Afghanistan, Zaeef warned.

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