British caught negotiating with the Taliban

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been caught lying about whether the British are negotiating with Taliban. He said they weren’t. They are.

An intelligence source said: “The SIS officers were understood to have sought peace directly with the Taliban with them coming across as some sort of armed militia. The British would also provide ‘mentoring’ for the Taliban.”

The disclosure comes only a fortnight after the Prime Minister told the House of Commons: “We will not enter into any negotiations with these people.”

Opposition leaders said that Mr Brown had “some explaining to do”.

Indeed he does. So do a couple of European diplomats.

Two European diplomats, a Briton and an Irish citizen, have been asked to leave Afghanistan after they traveled to the troubled southern province of Helmand…

President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman earlier said two foreigners — apparently the U.N. and European Union officials — had been arrested. But because the two have diplomatic immunity they were never technically arrested. Siddique said the U.N. was told that “their presence was detrimental to the national security of the country.”

Karzai’s spokesman, Humayun Hamidzada, said the two were “involved in some activities that were not their jobs.”

Brown’s UK and the UN and EU generally suffer from the delusion that the Taliban in Afghanistan is similar to the Sunni insurgents in Iraq, in that they can be dealt with and possibly “awakened” to democracy. Bill Roggio’s reporting strongly suggests that that isn’t the case at all.

The British view of Musa Qala is quite different from what really occurred in the district over the past year. In October of 2006, the British withdrew from their small outpost in the district center after negotiating with who they claimed were “tribal elders” not aligned with the Taliban. Within days, the Taliban ran up the al rayah, the black banner of the terror group, in the district center.

By February 2007, the Taliban took overt military control of the district–it had de facto control from October 2006 onward. The Taliban opened recruiting centers, taxed residents, mounted attacks on neighboring districts, hanged and beheaded numerous “spies” in public, and implemented sharia law. The British, U.S., Afghan, and NATO allies just liberated Musa Qala from Taliban control this December.

The British view is that radical elements of the Taliban are controlled by “only a few hundred” leaders considered “‘Tier 1’ … religious extremists and hard-core idealists, fully committed to a state governed by their own interpretation of Sharia law,” but the Taliban has integrated with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda cross train in camps, and have launched coordinated campaigns in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Members of the Taliban sit in on al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis. As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda wing, releases Taliban media products.

It would be an encouraging sign if the Brown government’s talks with the Taliban and then lying about it caused British opinion to shift to supporting a more vigorous approach to the war. That’s unlikely, but it would be encouraging if it happened. The fact is that right now, Britain isn’t living up to its responsibilities as a major US ally. It has pretty much pulled out of Iraq, and has misunderstood its role in Afghanistan to the point of forcing the recapture of Musa Qala. Negotiating with the Islamist militia that has long lived in a symbiotic relationship with al Qaeda is inches from true betrayal, both of our alliance and of the British people to whom Brown flatly lied.