Sunday, October 28, 2007

Taliban are broad coalition, says former Dutch general

The Toronto Star's Middle East bureau chief Mitch Potter quotes some frank comments by former military adviser to the UN's Kofi Annan:

One NATO adviser, retired Dutch military commander Frank van Kappen, told the Star of the "deepening doubts" of at least one branch of military intellectuals who now are questioning many of the larger political assumptions around which the foreign troop presence was designed.

"In academic circles, the biggest issue now is: `Are we shooting the right guys?' It stems from the realization that the Taliban is a motley bunch that shifts like a virus and is riddled with seams," said van Kappen, a senior analyst with the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies.

"What the Dutch are finding in Uruzgan is that there are many groups who have joined the Taliban for all kinds of reasons – business interests, family reasons, tribal conflicts, smuggling, drugs – layers and layers of factors far too complex for us to ever truly understand.

"But ... if you place your knife at the right part of the seam, you can break part of it off by negotiating it to your side. ... (link)
[P.S. For a revealing analysis of Potter's coverage of Israel-Palestine, see Justin Podur's exchange with him here.]

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