When is a conspiracy theory not a conspiracy theory? When evidence is found to prove it as a conspiracy fact.
Documents found in the house where Osama bin Laden was killed a year ago show a close working relationship between top al-Qaida leaders and Mullah Omar, the overall commander of the Taliban, including frequent discussions of joint operations against Nato forces in Afghanistan, the Afghan government and targets in Pakistan.
The communications show a three-way conversation between Bin Laden, his then deputy Ayman Zawahiri and Omar, who is believed to have been in Pakistan since fleeing Afghanistan after the collapse of his regime in 2001.
They indicate a “very considerable degree of ideological convergence”, a Washington-based source familiar with the documents told the Guardian.
The news will undermine hopes of a negotiated peace in Afghanistan, where the key debate among analysts and policymakers is whether the Taliban – seen by many as following an Afghan nationalist agenda – might once again offer a safe haven to al-Qaida or like-minded militants, or whether they can be persuaded to renounce terrorism.
One possibility, experts say, is that although Omar built a strong relationship with Bin Laden and Zawahiri, other senior Taliban commanders see close alliance or co-operation with al-Qaida as deeply problematic.
Western intelligence officials estimate that there are less than 100 al-Qaida-linked fighters in Afghanistan, and last year the United Nations split its sanctions list to separate the Taliban and al-Qaida.
Both David Cameron and US secretary of state Hillary Clinton have said that some kind of political settlement involving the Taliban is key to the stability of Afghanistan once most western troops have withdrawn by 2014.
Some communications in the documents date back several years but others are said to be from only weeks before the raid on 2 May last year in which Bin Laden died.
The Obama Administration has been reaching out to negotiate with the Taliban within the last year, in the misguided notion that you can negotiate with barbarians who want your whole nation wiped off the face of the earth.
Last week, thehill.com explained why this was a very stupid strategy:
The Taliban’s recent multi-pronged attacks, coming just a month after suspending talks with the U.S. is a stark reminder that peace negotiations remain a long shot at best, escalating an increasingly contentious debate over whether the insurgent group has any serious intentions of reaching a political settlement. Given the unpredictable nature of the enemy, adopting either policy — cease to participate, or stubbornly pursue peace talks — is irresponsible and extremely risky. Before making any decision, we must first understand why the Taliban might not be vested in reaching a compromise at this point in time. Only then the Afghan government could craft strategies that would strengthen its leverage in any serious peace talks and maintain security in case the enemy abandons negotiations all together.
For starters, the Taliban, who have waged a war of attrition against the Afghan government and its allies for more than ten years now, have seemed more interested in waiting out the international forces that are scheduled to leave the country by the end of 2014. Why? There are three plausible reasons.
First, President Obama’s premature declaration of a withdrawal date and the expected “race to the exits” by other countries have only reassured the Taliban that their plan to exhaust America’s commitment is working — and that sooner rather than later the early 90s scenario would repeat itself. The recent transfer to Afghan security forces of authority over detainees and the conduct of night raids, and Australia’s panicky announcement to pull out its troops nearly a year earlier than planned (although they took a “U-turn to fine-tune the coalition’s plan”) are affirmations of that realization.
Secondly, Taliban’s belief that their worst days are soon to end and that the fight will only get easier have boosted its morale. It should not come as a surprise from an insurgent group that lost thousands of fighters—yet remained steadfast against mighty forces in the decade-long war—that they would give themselves an extra five-year window to test out its ability to take over Kabul after foreign troops withdraw. In fact, it would be a quite rational step forward, especially when the Taliban’s leaders expect the tide to turn in their favor post-2014.
Third, this ideology-driven terrorist group believes that God and time are on its side, resulting in an unwavering commitment to stay the course to oust what they consider the soon-to-be-vulnerable puppet Afghan government militarily.
In the face of a foe like the Taliban, it is clear that hinging all hopes for a sovereign and peaceful Afghanistan on a political settlement would be foolhardy. Yet it does not mean that Afghans should refuse to welcome talks. Either way is an extreme position that will only limit the government’s options. Instead, a middle ground strategy is needed to limit the enemy’s options and possibly its ambitions before any serious negotiations are possible and fruitful.
So, now it turns out that Obama and his minions have been attempting to negotiate with people who were close confidants with those instrumental in the largest Terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001.
Smart Power? Nope. More like channeling Neville Chamberlain.