Skip to comments.UK: [PM] Gordon Brown called to explain Taliban talks [MI6 negotiating with terrorists?]
Posted on 12/26/2007 5:43:40 PM PST by bruinbirdman
Gordon Brown is to face pressure to return to Parliament and explain what discussions are taking place with Taliban fighters after it was disclosed that MI6 is involved in secret negotiations in Afghanistan.
The Conservatives said last night that Britain should not be holding meetings with the Taliban while they were killing British troops. However, senior military figures said such discussions may be necessary.
Earlier this month, the Prime Minister told MPs that we "will not enter into any negotiations with these people".
However, The Daily Telegraph has disclosed that MI6 agents held a series of discussions, known as "jirgas", with "important motivating figures inside the Taliban" in Helmand over the summer in an attempt to broker peace.
Disclosure of the MI6 talks comes amid a growing row over the expulsion of two diplomats for allegedly meeting with Taliban leaders.
The UK is believed to be urgently seeking talks with the Afghan authorities who asked that the officials - Mervyn Patterson, a British political adviser to the UN mission in Kabul, and Michael Semple, the Irish-born acting head of the EU mission - leave following a visit to Helmand.
Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said last night: "We cannot negotiate with people who are killing our troops. If there are former Taliban fighters or commanders who want a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan then naturally this is welcome, but we can cut no compromise with those who are currently killing our troops."
However, the father of a soldier killed in Afghanistan last August said Britain should be talking to "reasonable" elements of the Taliban.
Alun Hicks, whose son David, a 26-year-old captain with 1st Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment, died in a Taliban attack, said yesterday: "The Taliban is made up of an organisation, just like the IRA is and was, ranging from people with a particular view and opinion to out-and-out maniacs."
He said Britain should be talking to the reasonable elements and "supplying our forces with enough equipment and resources to deal with the maniacs".
Senior military figures also said some contact with enemy fighters may be necessary.
Col Bob Stewart, the former British UN commander in Bosnia, said last night: "It doesn't surprise me, we talked to the Provisional IRA throughout the troubles. It's a fact of life."
Brig Alan Mallinson, a former cavalry officer and military historian, said: "The job of MI6 is to gather intelligence and the best way to do this is to talk directly to the enemy."
The recent developments are the latest signs of the increasingly confused messages emerging from No 10 over the British approach to Afghanistan.
Mr Fox said: "The whole strategy is disjointed. We need a single co-ordinator to ensure things are properly joined up between the military and politicians."
The Liberal Democrats said that they are in favour of talking to the Taliban but also have concerns about Mr Brown's overall approach.
Yesterday, the Foreign Office said its policy was not to comment on intelligence matters.
A spokesman for Downing Street said the Afghan government led a "process of reconciliation" but stressed this was within the confines laid out by Mr Brown of not negotiating with the Taliban.
Earth to Bob Stewart, unlike Ulster, Afghanistan is not part of the United Kingdom.
From day one, the UK commands have been trying to deal with Iraq and Afghanistan as a form of Ireland redux.
But, with one major difference. As soon as a situation gets sticky or messy or doesn’t have a perfectly linear solution, get some mook to sign a piece of paper promising to play nice, then the Brits can walk away.
Of course, the mook lies. The Brits know the mook lies. And the mooks then turn the abandoned area into a fortified and reinforced area that other soldiers will have to deal with later...
But that’s all not their problem, they have a signed piece of paper that proves its all ok.
Lots of respect to the Squadies but none for the “softly softly” leadership. The Brits have the political and command courage of a people begging to be conquered.
Sometimes I get the impression they think they are still playing the Great Game.
I’d be hard pressed to name a europer that’s not.
Brits screwing up Afghanistan PING
hopefully he is one and done...
“Oh, right, he hasn’t stood for election yet. He was “appointed” by the socialist/labour party.”
That’s the way a parliamentary democracy works. There are no direct elections for Prime Minister. Anyone voting for Labour at the last election did so with the knowledge that Blair would be PM for a bit then Brown would take over, and that’s what the British electorate chose. Sadly.
It’s hard to comment on this without a clearer picture of what is happening. Afgahnistan, however, is a tribal country where war has been a way of life for decades and swapping sides when the balance changes is not unusual.
It’s certainly legitimate to suppose that talking to factions fighting on the side of the Taliban in an effort to strip them away from their support may be one of the means that may be used.
Do you think that nobody was talking to the Sunni tribes in Iraq that were supporting AQ prior to them changing sides?
Al Qaida, Taliban, and foreign jihadist are terrorists. Sunni and Shiite Iraqi or Afghani combatants are insurgents.
“Al Qaida, Taliban, and foreign jihadist are terrorists. Sunni and Shiite Iraqi or Afghani combatants are insurgents.”
Right. And one would imagine that the people who may have been talked to here would fall under your category of ‘Afghani combatants.’
The number of hardcore ‘Taliban’ is very small. No-one is going to negotiate with them because (a) there’s no point and (b) the people you sent to negotiate wouldn’t be coming back.
“Had the Tories won in 2005, wouldn’t the British foreign policy have stayed the same more or less?”
In my opinion, yes, pretty much. Neither of our two main policies adopts much of an ideological approach to foreign policy now (though Blair pretended to when he came to power talking about an ‘ethical foreign policy’, but that went out the window as soon as it conflicted with British interests).
Ahh yes the Great Quest to find a moderate muslim...good Luck with that.
Here’s what Brown was saying BEFORE they got caught