By Khalil Nouri STAFF WRITER / EDITOR
Afghanistan is to convene a grand tribal convention for a consensus with the Taliban—ones who can peel away from the organization—to relinquish the status-quo and accept the terms and conditions set by regional countries including US, UK and Saudi Arabia to end the War in Afghanistan. This could be a milestone and turning point for all parties to lay down some genuine benchmarks for Afghanistan’s future. However, as learned from some news media sources that there are rough roads ahead and some believe it is a replay of Soviet Union’s last minute attempt prior to its withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 that failed, and some believe it is the lack of regional players true intention that makes this a futile effort to thrive.
The story begins with an analogy of “creating a motion picture”:
Theoretically if a movie were to be produced and “Lights! Camera! Action!” was all it took to begin a narrative to end the war in Afghanistan, what would it look like? Would it be comedy or a tragedy?
The upcoming “Loya Jirga” (centuries old grand assembly of tribal elders) would be the lead characters in the screenplay of this motion picture production while the theme would be the call for a genuine reconciliation and reintegration of the sub-characters i.e. the Taliban.
The plot would wind its way through many sub-plots dealing with various attempts to gain societal consensus through different personalities of this traditional consultative assembly.
The conflict would arise when competing personalities attempt to devise various ways for their individual tribal groups to become the dominant command structure and recruiting source for Afghan forces as they take control of security from NATO-led forces “as rapidly as possible”; when the handover in some provinces is to be carried out possibly by late 2010 or early 2011, as drafted in a communiqué at the London conference last January.
And, when this 500 million dollar produced Jirga (whose setting is located in Kabul) is to convene for the three-day cast play starting on May 2, 2010; the cameras will start to roll, and the spotlights will be on the main characters. But in reality, the calls for “Action!” and “Cut!” will actually be made and controlled by directors who are not even participants in the event, but are just skulking about in the background.
In this “Loya Jirga” cast; the main characters and participants in this film are: between 1,200 to 1,400 members of the Afghan government (AG); the tribal elders; and presumably the Taliban. This film is intended to display an initiative and a golden opportunity for a major turning point; a turning away from decades of brutal and traumatic war in Afghanistan.
Although the script for such a successful screenplay and film has already been written by the (AG) with backing from the US and UK (director and assistant director), unfortunately to date, the sub-characters (the Taliban) possess a vague position in this screenplay because they have had their own backer and director, Pakistan. The Taliban, and their backer – Pakistan, have been writing their own sub-plot, and they have already had covert rehearsals of their own.
In addition, there are other scenes in this movie that expose hidden agendas such as the scene stealing proxy stand-ins for Pakistan and India. These players will attempt to gain a credible foothold on behalf of their handlers by elbowing each other when the cameras start rolling. India will do what it can to disrupt the notion that Pakistan is indirectly calling the shots; because India feels threatened by the notion that “the road to peace in Afghanistan is through Islamabad”. And, Pakistan feels that its only recourse from Indian influence in Afghanistan is to fight for dominance over Afghan politics.
Mounting pressure for the U.S. and NATO to just pack up and leave Afghanistan will be illustrated by Jirga members watching video in the background of the Soviet Union’s humiliating defeat and exit from Afghanistan. And, if anyone thinks that those videos do not reinforce Afghan fighting resolve, go ask a Russian.
However, Hamid Karzai’s May 2nd Jirga constituents are highly likely to be handpicked by him just to charm the hardheaded Taliban for false reconciliation purposes. We should expect that he will not include those who really suffered at the hands of the Taliban; like the crestfallen women and non-Pashtuns. Their voices will be replaced by his warlord cronies and drug barons who will openly speak in favor of reconciliation while preparing for the double-cross.
Placing this scenario into perspective, the finished product; its quality and sound, its photographic imagery and its special effects will only combine to produce a box office disaster horror- film.
I am writing all this and using all of these film analogies to say one simple thing, and that is the fact that I see very little hope in this upcoming event on May 2nd through 4th of this year 2010, because there is no unity of purpose being played out by all of the many factions involved—no respect for usual or traditional and diversified voiced Afghan gatherings in mind. This is just an event to stall for time by the very forces that are causing the problems in the first place.
And until there has been some successful groundwork laid to seek that unity, there will only be a continuation of the same behavior that we have seen in the past.
What we need is new leadership that will respect traditions, listen to all tribal factions, put the people ahead of personal gain, and think in a mutual benefit … win-win frame of mind.
Let’s hope for the best Oscar winning movie of the year!
Khalil Nouri is the cofounder of New World Strategies Coalition Inc., a native think tank for nonmilitary solution studies for Afghanistan. www.nwscinc.org