Will Obama release Fazl from Gitmo for peace talks with Taliban?

posted at 10:45 am on December 30, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

When any nation or organization wants to negotiate an end to hostilities, it has to be prepared to offer something substantial as a way to demonstrate good faith.  Almost by definition, their own side will object to the concession offered if it’s significant.  That will likely be the reaction to the Reuters report that the Obama administration is mulling over the idea of releasing one of the first detainees to enter the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for serious peace talks with the Taliban:

The Obama administration is considering transferring to Afghan custody a senior Taliban official suspected of major human rights abuses as part of a long-shot bid to improve the prospects of a peace deal in Afghanistan, Reuters has learned.

The potential hand-over of Mohammed Fazl, a ‘high-risk detainee’ held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison since early 2002, has set off alarms on Capitol Hill and among some U.S. intelligence officials.

As a senior commander of the Taliban army, Fazl is alleged to be responsible for the killing of thousands of Afghanistan’s minority Shi’ite Muslims between 1998 and 2001.

According to U.S. military documents made public by WikiLeaks, he was also on the scene of a November 2001 prison riot that killed CIA operative Johnny Micheal Spann, the first American who died in combat in the Afghan war. There is no evidence, however, that Fazl played any direct role in Spann’s death.

Without a doubt, Fazl’s a pretty bad guy, and an indictment all on his own of the Taliban government the US deposed after the 9/11 attacks and the Taliban’s refusal to turn over al-Qaeda’s leadership.  People forget just how bad the Taliban was in its administration of Afghanistan following their overthrow of the post-Soviet government in Kabul, such as it was.  Iran can be described fairly as a twelfth-century tyranny with 20th-century technology, but the Taliban were an eighth-century tyranny with 19th-century technology at best.  If Fazl returned to the field — and he almost certainly would, absent a peace agreement — he could wreak a bloody havoc on Afghanistan once again, which is probably the main reason that the US has balked at returning him to Afghanistan.

However, it’s not just the Taliban that want him back.  The US-supported government in Kabul wants him and four other Afghani Taliban in Gitmo released into their custody, and have been requesting that since 2005.  Both the Bush and Obama administrations have resisted those demands, and Congress remains opposed on a bipartisan basis.  They see Fazl as an especially egregious case and a big danger if released; Reuters says that Fazl and the others would remain in detention, but that’s probably fantasy.  The Kabul government could try Fazl for the massacres, but they’d probably trade him in a peace agreement if they could get one that disarms the Taliban as part of a general amnesty.

According to public data, that looks like a decision for Kabul to make.  Unless the US has information that Fazl took part in terrorist operations against the US or have evidence that Fazl took part in Spann’s murder, the jurisdiction for Fazl’s crimes would be in Afghanistan, not the US or Gitmo.  Sending Fazl and his cohorts to Kabul in custody of the Karzai government would not constitute “negotiating with terrorists,” as one objection in the Reuters account is stated.  It would be negotiating with the sovereign government we support so that they can negotiate with the Taliban.

That’s not just a distinction without a difference, either.  Unlike al-Qaeda, which was always a foreign group transplanted into Afghanistan for strategic purposes, the Taliban represent — for better or worse — the Pashtuns in Afghanistan, and to a lesser extent in Pakistan.  The Pashtuns are one of the biggest tribes in the region, and the conflict between the Taliban and the Afghan government (and the Northern Alliance that preceded it) is as much about tribal supremacy as it is about religion, and perhaps more so.  In any post-war Afghanistan, the government will have to find a way to integrate the Pashtuns into the political life of the country without a resort to arms.  Over the last ten years, many efforts have been made to get the Pashtuns to abandon their Taliban leadership, but without much success, and in the long run, negotiation will be necessary to end the conflict.  Given the tribal map of Afghanistan, it’s obviously impossible for total victory through military conquest:

Pashtuns are the largest single tribal ethnicity in Afghanistan, and one of the largest in Pakistan as well at around 40%, with Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks following in order (aggregating in the white space in the north on this map).  The only hope of ending the war is to get Pashtuns to live with the other tribes of Afghanistan in peace, or outright annihilation, which is not just impossible but unthinkable.  Peace will require negotiation, and negotiation will require trade-offs, sometimes literally, perhaps such as Fazl for a truce and serious talks.  Fazl might be a high price to pay, but in the end it will be the Afghan government who will pay it, and who should have jurisdiction to make that decision — unless the US has evidence that Fazl has conducted terrorist operations against the US outside of the scope of our invasion in 2001.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Don’t look at the sausage while it’s being made!

Mord on December 30, 2011 at 10:51 AM

Analysis, analysis, analysis… The best way to deliver this buy to the Taliban is in a burlap bag from 30,000 feet.

The only reason we’re negotiating is because we don’t have the will to win.

BKeyser on December 30, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Why can’t he just surrender to Fazl while he’s here?

Pablo on December 30, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Barry will do anything to appease our enemies.

Robert Jensen on December 30, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Almost by definition, their own side will object to the concession offered if it’s significant.

And that concession would be our offer to let the maggoty Taliban live another day…this is concession enough. As evidence of our willingness to come back when the Muslim vermin return to form, we should take Fazl to Afghanistan, put a shotgun in his ear and blow his head off.

That would be a more effective negotiation.

Jaibones on December 30, 2011 at 10:55 AM

“peace talks with the Taliban”

hahahahahha, oh man, Friday morning comedy!

Jeddite on December 30, 2011 at 10:56 AM

If it will benefit the Taliban and hurt the U.S., Obama will go for it.

DAT60A3 on December 30, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Didn’t we already allow the release of the Lockerbie bomber…..?
He had cancer you know.

NeoKong on December 30, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Cripe

Would the afghan govt actually take responsibility if this evil dude did something?

I can hear blame the us in the background

cmsinaz on December 30, 2011 at 10:58 AM

He was on the scene when Johnny Spann was killed, but not involved? Just a sad case of, wrong place wrong time? isn’t it enough that he was there??

ellifint on December 30, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Will he? Does a bear poo in the woods?

Hard Right on December 30, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Didn’t we already allow the release of the Lockerbie bomber…..?
He had cancerWas at Death’s door you know.

NeoKong on December 30, 2011 at 10:58 AM

That is what we were lead to believe. Evidently Death is on vacay or something.

Mord on December 30, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Do what the Israelis do. Exchange a thousand enemy prisoners for one of yours.

Then do it again. And again.

spiritof61 on December 30, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Obama has to see this as an easy way out.When the guy is freed in one of their frequent jail breaks it is out of his hands and Fazl can go back to cutting off heads.

docflash on December 30, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Why not make a deal with the Taliban of: Come back and negotiate a peace deal or we will execute this guy (and all the rest of them)?

albill on December 30, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Paging Neville Chamberlain…

Drained Brain on December 30, 2011 at 11:10 AM

The only upside I see: If we release him, the next time we catch him we can assassinate him instead of sending him to Gitmo.

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on December 30, 2011 at 11:10 AM

We’re not negotiating ‘peace’ with the Taliban, we’re negotiating surrender terms.

Obama wants a political victory, or at least the optics of one, the Taliban want us out. The only negotiations going on are how we will leave. Not much of a negotiation since Obama has already announced the date we will abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban.

Skandia Recluse on December 30, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Can Barry apologize then bend over and bow?

Wade on December 30, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Skandia Recluse on December 30, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Nailed it. Now who of the GOP candidates will repeat your statement?

spiritof61 on December 30, 2011 at 11:14 AM

I feel safer with PBHO in charge. Do you feel safer? I feel safer.

Bishop on December 30, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Are you kidding me? From the Reuters story:

major human rights abuses

As a senior commander of the Taliban army, Fazl is alleged to be responsible for the killing of thousands of Afghanistan’s minority Shi’ite Muslims between 1998 and 2001.

Would Eisenhower or Patton have turned over Rommel to the Hitler to appease the Nazis? Since when does this nation deal terrorist to sue for peace?

Rovin on December 30, 2011 at 11:15 AM

I feel safer with PBHO in charge. Do you feel safer? I feel safer.

Bishop on December 30, 2011 at 11:14 AM

You are in fact safer. Appeasement always brings you a short period of real security.

spiritof61 on December 30, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Since when does this nation deal terrorist to sue for peace?

Rovin on December 30, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Since January, 2009.

spiritof61 on December 30, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Say…..don’t we have some folks being held hostage that we could at least add into this deal?? Just sayin’

MaggieMae on December 30, 2011 at 11:20 AM

The Kabul government could try Fazl for the massacres, but they’d probably trade him in a peace agreement if they could get one that disarms the Taliban as part of a general amnesty.

And therein lies the problem.
Those killers will be back to their old tricks as soon as they get back home. This has every indication of a wimpy punt.
IF they are held in custody in Afgannystan, they’ll be sprung faster’n you can kiss a duck.
Only a clueless, careless, and grossly incompetent POTUS would even consider this “transfer”.
O’Bumbler was forced to leave Gitmo open for a reason. These Taliban honchos exemplify the need for that Club Fed for Islamists.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on December 30, 2011 at 11:20 AM

You are in fact safer. Appeasement always brings you a short period of real security.
spiritof61 on December 30, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Well there you go. As long as PBHO has a ready list of enemies to whom he can grovel, we will always be safe.

Disband the military, we don’t need wo’ no mo’.

Bishop on December 30, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Yeah this is the great beautiful political command from Washington ala Vietnam again. Also part of these peace talks is not just the release of prisoners but the establishment of “cease fire zones”, and of course the goal of cease fires.

How incapable of leadership you are when you have no understanding of history. Plan Vietnam, the O already begun the cutoff of Iraq ala late Vietnam and is in Afghanistan using the old early Vietnam model of cease fire talk talk hostilities cease fire talk talk hostilities rinse repeat etc..

God help US all the blood spent to be just wasted away, Sad.

C-Low on December 30, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Obama wants a surrender removal of US troops before the end of October 2012 so he can say he got the US out of two wars and killed BinLaden.

albill on December 30, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Reuters also reported a couple weeks ago the Obama administration has been negotiating with Mullah Omar. Just the other day we learned the FBI has removed Omar from the ‘Most Wanted Terrorists’ list. He still is on the ‘Rewards for Justice’ list ($10 million), but I guess Obama couldn’t been seen negotiating with a terrorist. Word is Obama offered him control of southern Afghanistan but Omar said no.

Perhaps the only “very ugly” thing Fazl did was name calling, as in calling Shiites “dirty Shiites.” Maybe he is just Islamophobic towards Shiites. Nope. He was a Taliban (Sunnis) leader involved in the slaughter of numerous Shiites. Other Taliban leaders released promptly went back to the business of the jihad under Omar’s command.

Let’s just cut these killers lose in “an exchange of ‘confidence-building measures.’” Let’s all shake hands, proclaim peace, and let Mullah Omar get back to his important work, directing “human rights violations” and hosting al Qaeda. Maybe they’ll even be a signing ceremony. Hooray! Victory!

Sergeant Tim on December 30, 2011 at 11:29 AM

“peace talks with the Taliban” = “Oprah weight-loss strategies”

hillsoftx on December 30, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Like fellow liberal Jon Stewart, I get my right-wing news from Hot Air because Ed, Allah and Tina can be so damn reasonable and intelligent.

urban elitist on December 30, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Since when does this nation deal terrorist to sue for peace?

Rovin on December 30, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Since we are:

1. BROKE

2. Trying to fight a war while (mostly) shielding the public from the costs, including ridiculous ROE’s.

3. Facing the problem of people not having the courage to either fight WW2-style to win, nor the courage to end the conflict already and disregard the howls of the Wilsonian nation-building dolts.

MelonCollie on December 30, 2011 at 11:32 AM

It’s a new low when you need the enemy to broker surrender.

Hening on December 30, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Litened to Jennifer Griffen on Fox about this just a minute ago.

Not good at all.

Sure glad we’re on the winning side, yeah buddy!

tree hugging sister on December 30, 2011 at 11:36 AM

this one plain just makes my stomach roil.

thanks for the info Ed

CoffeeLover on December 30, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Will the Taliban be sending in Joe Isuzu to do their negotiating?

Trust me!!!

hoofhearted on December 30, 2011 at 11:39 AM

When any nation or organization wants to negotiate an end to hostilities, it has to be prepared to offer something substantial as a way to demonstrate good faith. Almost by definition, their own side will object to the concession offered if it’s significant.

… But this happens when one sues for peace. –When the conflict is even and intransigent. –Or when one has lost the conflict.

So we’re suing for peace.

I’ll have to repeat this to myself a few times before I can carry on with the conversation . . .

Axe on December 30, 2011 at 11:43 AM

MelonCollie on December 30, 2011

Right on!
Either defecate or vacate the commode.
Where is a General Curtis ‘Bombs Away’ Lemay when you need him?
Ignored.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on December 30, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Right on!
Either defecate or vacate the commode.

Karl Magnus on December 30, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Thanks. That’s a right classy way of putting it, too! <:-]

MelonCollie on December 30, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Negotiating with the Taliban is moronic self-deception. They are not interested in anything but domination.

Basilsbest on December 30, 2011 at 11:56 AM

All part of the plan to shut down GITMO within obama’s first year in office.

All part of the plan . . . . . .

jfox21 on December 30, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Why not just drug his food, surgically implant a tracking device in his body and release him in exchange for peace?

If peace talks break down he’ll lead us to more Taliban. If they find out he has been implanted they will kill him.

Simple.

VibrioCocci on December 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM

I prefer they have more “accidents” down there in Cuba

golfmann on December 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Our first anti-American president just keeps on rollin’ along.

kingsjester on December 30, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Since the Taliban clearly isn’t our enemy, Joe Biden must be terribly confused over this whole thing.

BigWyo on December 30, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Uh huh. And what “confidence-building measures” are the Taliban offering us? – crickets -

lorenzo on December 30, 2011 at 12:16 PM

I sense another “peace with honor” solution coming. Warm up the helicopters for the big bugout.

jnelchef on December 30, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Joe Biden must be terribly confused over this whole thing.

BigWyo on December 30, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Not a terribly high threshold for Biden to become befuddled. The funny thing is that he fancies himself a statesman.

Obama on the other hand thinks of himself less an American as a citizen of the world and in that context it becomes clear why he sucks up to our enemies and attacks our allies. Letting the nation’s enemies go free and even the very act of cutting a deal with terrorists is in-line with Obama and his lack of love of this nation. There really is no other way of saying it. Obama, one of our top four Presidents, is not a patriot.

Happy Nomad on December 30, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Wait, this thing is still open?!

Roymunson on December 30, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Why not make a deal with the Taliban of: Come back and negotiate a peace deal or we will execute this guy (and all the rest of them)?

albill on December 30, 2011 at 11:08 AM

That sounds like more reasonable terms.

Rational Thought on December 30, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Simple.

VibrioCocci on December 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM

The Guantanamo Candidate :)

I like it. Of course, as paranoid as the target culture is, you might get by only planting the idea that its happened. Then just wait for the scimitars to fly out. Maybe mumbling “Mossad” whilst planting will help.

Axe on December 30, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Obama looking out for muzzies.

He’ll rattle in Iran next, to change the subject from jobs/ineptness at home, to ‘foreign this or that’. In the meanwhile he strengthens Iran and all muzzies.

The U.S. deserves him fully, having elected him so shortly after 9/11/2001.

Schadenfreude on December 30, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Can you say “Lockerbie Bomber”? This will turn out like everything else this Administration has done – barter in good faith and then get nothing in return. The Muslim community has never cared about anything but their needs. Do you actually think the Israeli/Palestinian prisoner swap, which was heavily favored towards Palestine, will make Hamas or Fatah more sympathetic to Israel? Never, as they have upped their opposition rhetoric to a new level.

djaymick on December 30, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Hussein and an important decisional part of US government IS Taliban. There is no other explanation why they will negociate with taliban in the first place (what the target is – a “moderate” taliban rule in Afghanistan? partial beheadings, partial stonings, partial nuclear attacks on infidels?) or the use of al-quaeda forces to topple regimes around ME (Egypt, Lybia, Syria… you named it)

Toppling lefty, relative non-religious dictatorships with the aid of muslim extremists is sick. Let them grind each other! But hey, you Americans will vote either for Ron Paul (after you stirred the shiite up for the last 40 years) or 0bama/R0mney, so we (the rest of non-shitty-islamo-commie world) can go to hell anyway!

Rookie on December 30, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Peace talks with the Taliban.

This has got to be the stupidest idea on the planet. Sure, start talks with a bunch of people whose OWN HOLY BOOK says it’s ok to lie to non-Muslims, and ok to lie to Muslims in certain cases.

What they’ll do, is agree to certain provisions in exchange for cash. Then, when they get the cash, they’ll break the agreements, shrug it off, and say that they don’t have to hold to agreements made with the “Great Satan” or some such. Then they’ll start attacking again, and with US taxpayer money, they’ll be able to finance more bombs and such.

You don’t negotiate with a rabid dog.

sage0925 on December 30, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Peace and Taliban in the same sentence.

Happy Friday!!!

No.

No.

No.

But nice they’re asking it of Obama, who most likely will be “retired” shortly and the window is closing.

No.

kim roy on December 30, 2011 at 1:49 PM

“peace talks with the Taliban”

hahahahahha, oh man, Friday morning comedy!

Jeddite on December 30, 2011 at 10:56 AM

That’ just it. That this Administration would even consider that the Taliban would enter such negotiations in good faith would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. Look at how the Brits got burned when they let that Pan Am bomber go. That’ what’ll happen if they let this guy go. Bank on it.

Yakko77 on December 30, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Give them their own country. Oh wait, we did that and the result was pretty ugly.

Rancher on December 30, 2011 at 5:11 PM

According to Robert Reich Obama’s foreign policy shines.

I guess you can polish fecal matter after all.

profitsbeard on December 30, 2011 at 6:12 PM

The Taliban’s goal is to become the main political and military force in every country in the world. So how does negotiating work when your enemy has such a goal? How would the “release” of any prisoner blunt your enemy’s goal?

This administration is clueless about everything. ABO in 2012!

gasmeterguy on December 31, 2011 at 8:43 AM

So… the guy is clearly an enemy of the United States… (so is Obama, but I digress) caught on the field of battle….. responsible for human rights violations and atrocities… Yeah, I think Barry O should let him go.. let them all go as a matter of fact..
Then we can entertain ourselves watching BHO and his cronies be tried for treason.

“giving aid and comfort to the enemy” Just one more thing Barry O can do for you.

I couldnt hate this asspick more.

Viper1 on December 31, 2011 at 8:56 AM

I couldnt hate this asspick more.

Viper1 on December 31, 2011

Good One!
Aspic: Red squishy tomatoes made into inedible Jell-O.
Ø’Bambi is as spineless as gelatin.
Shuck them mom jeans, ØbozØ, and ask the First Mooch for half of a pair of hers, or even a third! (chuckle)
(testes come with a price attached. just axe moochelle)

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on December 31, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Just a few weeks after VP Joe Biden tells America “the Taliban is not out enemy” the Obama Adminostration, in direct negotiations with the Taliban, considers the release of a top Taliban commander responsible for the deaths of 1000′s of Shia muslims, and possibly the first American casualty, CIA operator, Johnny Michael Spann.

Capt-Dax on December 31, 2011 at 11:59 AM