On the Taliban getting their act together…
“One really has to wonder why TB doesn’t concentrate on getting act together, trying to present a more cohesive front…” (comment by
@SuzanneSues57) I said I would comment…
I don’t think the Taliban are willing or able to understand the implications or the urgency. But, to be fair, nor is the Afghan government, for that matter, even just going by Ruttig and Rashid’s frustrated observations yesterday. I am starting to form the view that both sides (Afg govt and Afg TB) will drift by default into continuing the fight after 2014 – the government has a shiny new army which it might want to fight with first, before decisions about talks are made. And the Taliban are still in the fight – even though large scale operations look beyond them. From their perspective they have seen off a 40+ nation international army.
In terms of “act” and getting it together, the Taliban do suffer from poor command and control, across two countries, together with some justifiable paranoia about the risks of arrest etc by ISI. Not to mention what seems to be a significant divide between “talkers” and “fighters” in the leadership. And perhaps even raising the issue of talks within the fervent atmosphere of “jihad”, can be a divisive and difficult thing to do from Quetta.
Finally, I don’t think the Taliban yet really know what they want. But does the US or Karzai? I sense that realism and prgamatism are currently in short supply in this part of the world. I really liked the expression that Ahmed Rashid used at the conference: “lets open the minds of the Taliban”, because it fits exactly in line with the paper I am currently writing on the use of messaging. My DIIS contribution to their paper was a briefer flavour of some of these ideas. In terms of the media environment, somewhere between the poisonous and damaging propaganda war and useful/credible talks there is a whole unexplored area that involves engaging with the Taliban on political, social and economic themes that might guide, shape, coax and encourage them to understand some of the realities of the modern world. If they have a better political mindset and understanding before they go into talks, perhaps the result might be more sustainable.
What do you reckon?