For its part, Pakistan sees little incentive in waging an overt war on the Haqqani, especially as one Pakistan official noted, “The Haqqanis will be with us forever. And in two years the US will be gone for the most part.”
In fact, in its rush to exit Afghanistan, the Obama administration is bending over backwards to do nothing that will derail its prospects of negotiating a reconciliation agreement to bring the Taliban back into the Afghan government.
As such, Obama administration officials believe that the Haqqani’s ties to the Taliban could throw those peace talks off the rails given the American government’s long-standing policy of not negotiating with terrorist organizations.
However, it should be noted that the Obama administration has played fast and loose with that policy in that Hillary Clinton acknowledged back in October 2011 the United States had held preliminary meetings with representatives of the Haqqani Network “to test their willingness and their sincerity…to try to put together a process that would sequence us towards an actual negotiation.”
To speed those negotiations, the Obama administration, which recently said the US has been in “direct discussions” with key Taliban leaders, had been facilitating those discussions for years by secretly releasing high-level Taliban captives on the condition that they promise to not fight anymore.
Not everyone, however, is on board with bringing back the Taliban into the Afghan fold, most notably Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, a position likely hardened by the recent Haqqani-backed assassination in Kabul of Mullah Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban official and peace negotiator.
In fact, if anything, the Taliban appears growing stronger and more deadly, an observation made by Senator Feinstein upon her recent return from Afghanistan, resurgence she attributed in large part to the increased violence by Haqqani forces.
Specifically, in April 2012, insurgents launched the biggest attack on Kabul in 10 years, an assault on major on Afghan government buildings, military bases and foreign embassies that killed 15 and wounded 74 others.
That attack was followed three weeks later in May when — hours after President Obama departed Kabul after signing the Afghan-US strategic pact –insurgents launched a series of coordinated suicide attacks against Afghan government targets in Kabul.
Yet, while the Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for both those attacks, the Pentagon said they were likely carried out by Haqqani militants withUS Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker offering more certainty, claiming, “There is no question in our mind that the Haqqanis were responsible for these attacks.”
In fact, the strength of the Haqqani in fueling the escalation in violence is such that in March General John Allen, commander of American forces in Afghanistan, said the upcoming spring Coalition offensive would primarily be rooted at clearing out Haqqani strongholds in eastern Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, the long-term effects of that strategy remains undecided given that the Afghan-US strategic pact prohibits the American military fromusing Afghanistan as a base to combat insurgencies in neighboring countries after 2014.
As such, the agreement will expose the remaining 30,000 American troops expected to still be in Afghanistan to attacks by the Haqqani who could then cross back over into the safety of Pakistan.
According to one US military official, “The Haqqanis should not be given carte blanche to do whatever they want while State Department officials hold out false hope that they can cut a deal with the Devil.”
Sadly, those words will continue to fall on deaf ears, as in the eyes of the Obama administration, there is a clear distinction between the Devil and a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
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