A To-Do List for Afghanistan - A Saudi Perspective

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by ejazr, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    A To-Do List for Afghanistan - washingtonpost.com

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- As President Obama considers what to do about Afghanistan, it is important that he hear perspectives from all sides concerned about that critical region. In Riyadh, it is clear that the Taliban is weak in Afghanistan. Their record in government is well remembered by Afghans, including large numbers of Pashtuns, all of whom suffered greatly at the hands of Mohammad Omar's Taliban cohorts.

    The Taliban is not a cohesive or uniform political party with a chain of command and a political manifesto. Rather, any disaffected, rebellious or aggrieved Afghan who overtly opposes the government by military means and otherwise has come to be identified as a member of the Taliban.

    Osama bin Laden has become not only the symbol of opposition to world order in general and to the United States in particular, but he is looked upon by disaffected youths -- and not just Muslims -- as an indomitable, untouchable Robin Hood. Even if he no longer organizes and executes terrorist acts, the fact that he survives reinforces that appeal every day and adds to his charisma. Bringing him to account is a necessity, whether by capture or by death.

    So, what should the Obama administration do?

    - Overcome the misguided handling of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was initially shunned and denigrated by the administration, forcing him to reach out to unsavory politicos and "warlords" to win the recent elections. If there were a viable opposition to Karzai, then you could undermine him. But there is not.

    Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai's main opponent in the election, is a Tajik, and he will not be accepted to lead the country by either the Pashtuns or the Uzbeks, the two largest components of Afghanistan's tribal structure. Abdullah's "Westerly ways" further undermined his credibility among nationalists. Once the commission investigating the recent election fraud declares its conclusions, the United States should move on and concentrate on setting benchmarks for Karzai, especially on development projects.

    - Change the media theme from attacking the Taliban and calling them the terrorists to concentrating on al-Qaeda and "foreign terrorists." By removing the stigma of terrorism from the Taliban, you can pursue meaningful negotiations with them. Mohammad Omar has never enjoyed the full support of Pashtuns. He is a lowly figure in tribal terms, and he is blamed by many of them for the calamity that has befallen Afghanistan. Reaching out to tribal leaders is what will move negotiations.

    - Fix the Durand Line. As long as this border drawn by the British is not fixed, Pakistan and Afghanistan will be at loggerheads and always suspicious of one another. A joint development project for the border area, announced by both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and supported by the United States and the world community, will direct people's eyes to the future rather than the past.

    - Convene a meeting of the security-intelligence departments of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, China and Saudi Arabia to devise ways of eliminating al-Qaeda's leadership. China, Russia and Saudi Arabia have a long-standing vendetta with al-Qaeda and will contribute intelligence and other resources to rid the world of this cancer.

    - Push India and Pakistan to fix Kashmir. That is doable, once both countries see a determined effort by the United States in that direction. Both countries are beholden to the United States -- Pakistan for the military and financial support it receives and India for the nuclear energy agreement it has signed with Washington.

    - Take on the heroin trade. The challenge can be met by a program that America used in the 1960s in Turkey, where opium poppies were extensively grown and processed into heroin. The United States bought the entire crop from the farmers directly and allowed them to plant alternative crops for their livelihood. There is no more heroin trade in Turkey.

    Resolution, reflection and determination are the key characteristics of Obama's personality. He should stick with them. As in all difficult issues, when people see these qualities on display, most of them will be persuaded to follow.

    When the Pashtuns, among whom bin Laden hides, see the determination to get him, they will calculate differently from when they see that nobody cares. When Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari see resolution in Obama's demands for benchmarks and for settling the border dispute between their countries, they will adhere. When India and Pakistan feel the strength of an American push on Kashmir, they will come along.

    When Russia, China and Saudi Arabia sense a seriousness of purpose on eliminating the al-Qaeda leadership, they will gladly provide whatever support they can. When the U.S. financial commitments on development are met, the people of Afghanistan will regain their confidence in America's word.

    And when President Obama's advisers or interlocutors tell him that he can't do this or that, he should just say to them: Yes, we can.

    Prince Turki al-Faisal was the longtime director general of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service, the Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah. He was also the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
     
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  3. SATISH

    SATISH DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    Wow...This guy thinks too superficially...LOL...He also thinks India and Pakistan can work together. Which in my opinion is futile. The Pakistanis want Afghanistan to remain in middle age and India wants Afganis to become a modern state. But many of the things he suggested will work if all the countries show equal responsibility and take care of the mess that is Afghanistan today. Russia and Iran along with the other neigbouring countries must be involved for the reconstruction and no one must be given more stakes than the other.
     
  4. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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    how can a deal with india on civilian nuclear deal can give USA the liberty to push india into settling j&k. USA will be the biggest beneficiary of it in terms of nuke trade and commerce.
    is he joking???:crazy:
     
  5. F-14

    F-14 Global Defence Moderator Senior Member

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    A Saudi Perspective << Operating word guys Saudi they are chaddibuddies with Pakistan remember
     
  6. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    The important thing to note is that Saudi's arn;t really happy with Mulla Omar either. That is contrary to Pakistani intelligence views that Mulla Omar being pro-pakistan should be engaged so that they can have a Pro-Pakistan Taliban govt. in Afghanistan once US/NATO leave.

    Infact, it looks like Saudi's actually prefer Karzai than Abdula Abdula or Mulla Omar. Since after the US and China, Saudi's are the next most important ally of Pakistan. India can get the Saudis to influence Pakistan to work for a stable Karzai govt. that doesn't have considerable Taliban influence as Indian and Saudi interest converge here

    Also Al-Turki is very influential in foreign policy in Saudi, they don't have to debate their policies in the parliament so this could be taken as a pretty good idea as to what the Saudi's want atleast on the official govt. level.
     
  7. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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    can you elaborate?
    does india have so much influence with SA?
     
  8. Sandrocottas

    Sandrocottas Regular Member

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    saudi governement -to do list

    A) Actually, Taliban and Mullah Omar are the foster children of Saudi Arabia. Saudi is the biggest financier of Taliban ;pakistan are the carrier boys.

    B) Just note, the bloody author does not talk of eliminating taliban. He talks of eliminating al-qaeda.Why Why? Because Osama and Al-qaea group dream of eliminating the saudi monarchy and taking over the oilfields of saudia arabia.

    C) Taliban -foster child of saudi arabia. Yes, further evidence in
    Asia Times Online :: Asian news hub providing the latest news and analysis from Asia by Syed saleem Shahzad. Pakistan Muslim league and Musharraf are close to Saudi arabia ( further evidence of nawaz being in Riyadh in exile) whereas PPP is close to UAE ( further evidence being Zardari and Benazir were based in Dubai in exile apart from london). Baluchi oil fields, pakistan telecom contracts and other lucrative were handled by Saudi ruling party while nawaz and Musharraf were in power. Whereas, after Zardari came to power, he started terminating saudi contracts and giving contracts to UAE. (for example UAE etisalat bagged the Pak telecom contract). This angered the Saudis and in order to teach Zardari a lesson ,they compounded the taliban problem by further emboldening Taliban. And then it happened ? Swat and the subesequent events.

    D) The whole article by the author is meant to keep Pakistani army happy. Why the author is talking of Pak, russia and china together neutralising Al-qaeda? Why the author is silent on the secretive link between cheche rebels, al-qaeda and pak army? Why the author is talking of india paksitan border resolution. Why he is not talking of establishing democracy in saudi arabia?
     
  9. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Sandrocottas many of the questions you have should be obvious US led 40 nation NATO coalition is close to losing in Afghanistan after 8 years of fighting and 100's of billions dollars spent this is an embarrasment for the greatest military alliance on the planet. The new face saving concept developed is the concept of the good Taliban as a way to look like the military was able to do some thing against what is viewed as a primitive 3rd world country by the west and to lose to them is humiliating, but the roles have changed first the mission was to find Osama Bin Laden when that failed it changed to getting rid of taliban and alqueda when that failed it became getting rid of the Bad Taliban and this is slowly become trying to prevent terror attacks on US and stabilizing Afghanistan role but the roles can keep changing but the simple fact of losing in Afghanistan does not.
     
  10. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Just read my highlighted parts in the article. Turki asserts that Hamid Karzai should be strengthened not undermined as there is no viable opposition. Even though there was massive rigging in his favor.

    He also says, (and right so) that Mulla Umar might have a hardcore minority that supports him, but the vast majority of the Pashtoons blame the Taliban as well for their problems and hold tribal loyalties paramount than the Taliban

    Regarding how much India can influece SA, if it pertains to reigning in terrorist groups in Pakistan, I doubt SA can do much, just as I doubt even the GoP can do much at this point in time. Post 2008, even the PA or ISI doing much to reign in terror is quiet questionable as seen from the latest attacks on the GHQ.

    But when it comes to counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing, Im sure they are more than willing and may have already been doing so. Although they might not have a lot of India-specific intelleignce.

    @sandrocottas

    I am talking specfically about the Government of SA here. We tend to overstate SA govt. support to Pakistan. I say just look at their actions. At this very moment, Pakistan is in need of generous infusions of cash to prop its current account to prevent a default and needs investment in its economy. Are the Saudis coming for their aid? Or even the Chinese for that matter both of whom are flush with Billions in surplus. No its the Americans who despite being in a recession are committing to 1.5B per year in NON-military aid alone.

    There is definitely wealthy sympathisers of the AQ variety but post 1990, these extremist groups are as much a threat to SA govt. as they are to any other country,perhaps even more so.

    Regarding Saudi-Indo relations, the current Saudi govt. is headed by Abdulla which is a completely different ball game with the previous regimes. It is not insignificant that King Abdulla was the first Saudi King to visit India calling it his "second home" and signed the Delhi declaration pact that secured a vital portion of India's crude oil needs.
    The Hindu Business Line : India, Saudi Arabia sign strategic energy pact — Long-term contracts planned for crude supplies
    India Independence Day Supplement: Strong Indo-Saudi relations key to trade

    The Saudi govt. along with Egypt and some other arab countries has supported India’s inclusion in OIC, continues to increase bilateral trade (5th largest trading partner) and even had Indian military officials training the Saudi National Guards (a parallel security force loyal to Abdulla) along with the Americans.
    Also Indian expats constitute the largest foreign workers (three times as much as Pakistanis) and are on average treated much better than comparable Pakistani, Bengali or other foreign workers. This could be because of a deliberate policy by Abdulla led regime beginning in 2000

    Notice even on the Kashmir issue he has stressed bilateral resolution inline with GoI. He hasn't favoured any stance like independance of Kashmir e.t.c.

    This doesn’t mean Saudi govt. is anti Pakistan. But it is not anti India either. It’s similar to how India and to some extent China maintains good relations with Israel as well as arab countries at the same time.

    Their support to Afghan Mujahideen were all related to converged US interests in the region to combat Communism. Even their support of Pakistan in 1971 and Kashmir related issues was to the perceived "communist" India. The Afghan Mujahideen and to a lesser extent the rise of the Taliban all had tacit support from the US. It was here that Saudi - Indian interests collided as did US -Indian interests.

    And on your last point, the article was about Afghanistan, and the afpak region. Talking about all the other stuff is offtopic so obviously not mentioned.
     

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