045_Global12_Arena_V7

Global issue 12

Arena Pressure Points tional groups. The former monarch would have been a symbolic unifying figurehead in providing an alternative to the Taliban, Outsiders caught up in the Afghan imbroglio especially in the inherently conservative and somewhat trouble- some Pashtun belt. During the late 1990s, Haq was working for an alternative to initially seen the Taliban as a stabilising force following years the bases it has built up. In particular, Credit: The US Army CC BY 2.0amount of infrastructure and moneyin Afghanistan over the past decadeand is unlikely to want to relinquish- has invested a hugeThe USA the Taliban regime, because it had already alienated many Af ghans. He understood that the Taliban movement was stratified, the extremist element being like a thin layer on the top but with most of the movement made up of Afghan moderates who had of inter-factional fighting. Many of these men were command- it seems it will want to maintain ers whom Haq himself had fought with in the 1980s against the its presence in Afghanistan as a Soviet-backed regime in Kabul. strategic outpost in Asia, and because By 2001, Haq had engaged men from across the country. Some Afghanistan borders countries where US Army in Afghanistan were corps commanders, others provided the bodyguard to the it feels it has strategic interest – such as Iran, China and an increasingly Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, or were even Taliban unstable Pakistan. After 2014, it is likely the USA will leave behind several ministers. The trust that Haq established potentially included the Haqqani network in greater Paktia and across the border in North tens of thousands of troops and undercover (possibly CIA) and special forces Waziristan. Haq had been trained in guerrilla warfare by the net- troops to continue with the policy of night raids. It seems that the hope is to work’s leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, during the early 1980s. Today, get the war off the front pages, but it is likely to continue below the radar. the Haqqani network is one of the most significant problems for NATO, despite having been the junior partner to the USA as regards the NATO in Afghanistan, particularly given its ability to act across choice of strategy in Afghanistan, has increased its role significantly since the border and with its safe havens in Pakistan. Despite its his- 2003. NATO’s initial role was to provide security in the cities of Afghanistan, toric relationship with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and with al-Qaeda, the network has traditionally been in favour but from 2003, when it was allowed to operate in the countryside, it has of the Afghan monarchy as well as motivated by the desire to re- built up a series of ‘provincial reconstruction teams’. These have been move ‘invading infidels’ from Afghanistan. If anyone was going controversial because they have increasingly attempted to weld the military to bring the Haqqani network ‘in from the cold’ and into a new, actors with those undertaking development. In recent months, NATO has post-Taliban order, it was Haq. faced new difficulties in implementing its role of training and mentoring the By July 2001, Haq’s plan was supported by the key commander various elements of the Afghan national security forces. Ahmad Shah Massoud, whom Haq had met in Dushanbe in July 2001. Even Massoud foresaw the necessity of the return of Zahir Pakistan is increasingly accused of having played a ‘double game’ over Shah as a figurehead and had agreed to work with him. Both Mas- Afghanistan, particularly since the discovery of Osama bin Laden near soud and Haq were ultimately assassinated, in September and late the main military academy at Abbottabad in April 2011. Elements of October 2001 respectively. By this time, with the NATO bombing the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and military have fostered campaign already begun, the window of opportunity for the plan militancy over the past decades (in the 1980s with the overt support of was closing rapidly. the USA). A recent report by the New World Strategies Coalition talks of In October 2001, Haq went to eastern Afghanistan with a small a systematic attempt by Pakistan to destroy the Afghan tribal system group and, soon after meeting some elders in Tezeem, was cap- through assassinations of leaders (who traditionally built consensus) and tured by a group of Taliban of non-Afghan appearance, most their replacement with the imported Wahhabist extremism of the Taliban. likely Arab or Pakistani. He was then taken to Kabul where the extremist Taliban interior minister – Mullah Razzaq – killed him. The Haqqani network of Afghan militants have received shelter from Later, when asked why they had murdered him so fast, the deputy Pakistan since the 1970s. This group has carried out several high-profile Taliban interior minister, Mullah Khaksar, told me it was because attacks in Kabul over the past year, and continues to operate from its base “everyone bought into his plan, even in Gardēz, Ghazni, Jalala- in North Waziristan. It remains to be seen whether the recent designation bad and Kandahar”. He added that if they had put him in jail “he by the USA of the Haqqani network as a ‘foreign terror organisation’ will would have begun a revolution”. have any impact. Certainly, the Pakistan-sponsored militant network of Both Haq’s plan and Afghanistan itself were let down by the Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Hezb-e-Islami, continues to operate with impunity. prevalence of Western myths and ignorance about the country and by the determination to fashion a nation state out of – what re- Al-Qaeda’s relationship with the Taliban is not as solid as it has mains essentially – a tribal society. After 9/11, the warlords could sometimes appeared to be. The Taliban were willing to break with al- have been sidelined and Haq’s plan involving more genuine Af- Qaeda both pre- and post-9/11. Abdul Haq understood this and wanted ghan local leadership allowed to fly. The decision not to subject to exploit that reality, partnering with those less extremist elements of many notorious characters to a process of accountability for the the Afghan Taliban in order to close the political and strategic space gross human rights violations many had committed in the civil war era of 1992–96 has meant Karzai has had to constantly horse- for al-Qaeda within Afghanistan. Much of this was to have been done trade with them to maintain their loyalty. This has also involved through working with tribal leaders, as well as with former Taliban who sharing in the spoils of the state, including much of the interna- were willing to defect to the new order orchestrated by Haq around the tional aid money. ex-king. The Western bombing campaign and the early years (post-9/11) of continued reliance upon the Pakistani intelligence establishment for Lucy Morgan Edwards is former political advisor to the EU strategic direction in the Afghan campaign meant this opportunity was lost. ambassador to Kabul and author ofThe Afghan Solution globalfourth quarter 2012 www.global-briefing.org l45


Global issue 12
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