Ex-PM Says Taliban Offer Talks For Pullout Date – IPS ipsnews.net

by Rich Rubenstein on July 28, 2011 · 0 comments

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Ex-PM Says Taliban Offer Talks For Pullout Date – IPS ipsnews.net.


Gareth Porter reports that top officials of the  Taliban (including Mullah Omar) are apparently offering to negotiate with the U.S. government immediately, without insisting on any specific date for a final withdrawal of American troops. Moreover, they are willing to guarantee that al Qaeda militants will not be permitted to return to Afghanistan. President Obama has already announced that U.S. troops will be out of the country by 2014.  So what’s the problem?

The problem resides in one word: “complete.” When the Taliban say complete withdrawal, they mean not only the extraction of all U.S. troops but the abandonment of American military bases, including the Bagram Airfield. Whereas, when Obama talks about withdrawal, he carefully refrains from using the word “complete” or mentioning military bases.

Some analysts believe that a major purpose of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was to gain control of Bagram, one of the world’s most strategically located airbases, little more than an hour’s striking distance from China and Iran, and minutes away from Pakistan, Kashmir, and the ‘stans.’ Others point out that the troop withdrawal contemplated for Afghanistan, like that currently under way in Iraq, contains lots of fine print: certain military forces denominated “advisers,” “trainers,” “special forces,” “protective forces,” and the like, may remain indefinitely.

The real obstacle to negotiation, it seems, is the U.S. government’s and global corporations’ determination to retain a long-term military presence in Central Asia. What the British once called the “great game” of empire-building continues. When will we learn to recognize it and call it by its proper name?

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