Saturday, March 29, 2008

'Reach out to the Taliban". And Hezbullah. And Hamas...

You don't want to miss out on the weekly truckload of sheer UK nonsense.
Please, read on...

'Reach out to the Taliban': British defence secretary

Sat Mar 29, 2008

LONDON (AFP) - Britain should reach out to elements of the Taliban militia in Afghanistan who can be won over to the side of democracy, Defence Secretary Des Browne said in a newspaper interview published Saturday.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Browne said conflict resolution was about persuading people who believe that violence is the way to achieve their aims to try to fulfil their ambitions through politics instead.

And that meant engaging with individuals or groups, even if their views were disagreeable. He applied the argument to Taliban insurgents -- whom British troops are fighting in southern Afghanistan -- as well as Lebanon's Hezbullah.

Browne said there was currently "no basis of negotiation" with Al-Qaeda, but added: "The Taliban is a collective noun. There are some people who are driven by their own self interest rather than ideology.

"There's no question that we should try to reach them. People have been switched. We have to get people who have previously been on the side of the Taliban to come onto the side of the (Afghan) government."

His comments come after Jonathan Powell, who was former prime minister Tony Blair's top adviser, said in a March 15 interview with The Guardian that Western nations should talk to the likes of the Taliban, Hamas and Al-Qaeda.

Powell argued that opening up channels of communication had proved to be successful in ending three decades of bloody sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics in the British province of Northern Ireland.

But efforts to engage elements of the Taliban saw Kabul expel two senior United Nations and European Union diplomats -- one from Britain and the other from Ireland -- for contacting insurgents in southern Helmand province.

According to a Financial Times report from the Afghan capital on February 4, President Hamid Karzai was furious at the proposal to set up a military training camp for 2,000 Taliban militants who wanted to switch sides. (AFP)


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