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February 15, 2010

I Take It All Back! - UPDATED
Posted by Michael Cohen

Well sort of, but this is huge news:

The Taliban’s top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials.The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder, and was a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Not only is this enormous as far as the US war in Afghanistan, but it suggests for perhaps the first time that the Pakistan government is willing to cooperate with the US in going after the Afghan Taliban.  One can only imagine the impact on Taliban feelings of security and reliance on Pakistani support: that safe haven ain't feeling so safe anymore. One has to think this will affect the drive toward political reconciliation in a dramatic way - because if you're the Taliban this news suggests that time is no longer necessarily on your side.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this may be the most important to thing to happen to the US war in Afghanistan - as Leah Farrell suggests this might be the more significant US capture since 9/11. This has the potential to change the entire complexion of the war in Afghanistan - and for the better. For the first time in a very long time, there is reason for optimism.

UPDATE: Greg Carlstrom has warned against over-optimism about reconciliation and he's right, it's probably a bit early to get too far ahead since we don't know all the reasons why the ISI moved on Baradar - and we don't know what's happening behind the scenes. But the combination of the US surge, increased military pressure on the Taliban, even the Shinwari deal and now this capture - for the first time in a while there is evidence that the Taliban may be losing the military initiative.  That may have the potential to move the reconciliation ball forward.  We may have to wait a while and see how this plays out, but there weren't many events that had the potential to really change the political equation on the ground - and this is one of them. 

BTW, if this was in the works before Obama's West Point speech - and was done in concert with the surge - could someone please direct me to my plate of crow.

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Comments

Hi,
Thank you very much for listing updates.It helped me a lot.."The strategy that the president outlines will accelerate handing over security responsibilities to Afghan forces... but he will not go into detail about the pace," one official said.

Damn, this is huge! Another Number Two sidelined! Why, this is the biggest news since all those other number twos were captured, or since Casey was replaced with Petraeus, or McKiernan was replaced with McChrystal, or . . .oops. I give this war another eight years, tops.

That is a good question. I have a deja vu feeling.

Can anybody explain why this guy if different and he isn't one of the many "Number three in Al Queda" who were captured according to official propaganda?

why is he so relevant for the taliban? Aren't there a lot of other leaders who could take his place?

Some people assume that people in other countries are forced into war like US leaders force the American people into war, with lies and propaganda. They believe that once these leaders are removed, the motivation to fight will cease. They don't understand that people who fight foreign invaders are self-motivated and not reliant on leaders to force them into war -- they are defending their homeland. Pashtuns have always been good at it, particularly. They don't need a leader to tell them to risk your life setting an IED -- they just do it. They'll never even miss the leader when he's gone because they weren't really being led to do what they do.

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Some people assume that people in other countries are forced into war like US leaders force the American people into war, with lies and propaganda. They believe that once these leaders are removed, the motivation to fight will cease. They don't understand that people who fight foreign invaders are self-motivated and not reliant on leaders to force them into war -- they are defending their homeland. Pashtuns have always been good at it, particularly sesli chat sesli sohbet

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