Reading the Taliban Tea Leaves

One of the most disturbing recent developments regarding the Taliban is the Taliban kidnapping of Christian South Korean volunteer workers, the beating and bullying attempt to force the South Koreans into converting to Islam, reported rapes of the women, and the murder of two Koreans. As reported by the Taliban, South Korea paid a ransom of more than $20 million and promised to withdraw its military personnel and all civilians from Afghanistan. This is a surrender to the Taliban, who are a religiously extremist Muslim gang of brigands. South Korea is no longer the Asian tiger, it is the Asian pussycat and the Taliban have whipped it. Since South Korea still has a few citizens in Afghanistan, the Taliban has announced it will redouble its attacks on the South Korean embassy in Kabul and education facilities that South Korea has supported as punishment for failing to live up to its promises to surrender as quickly as possible.

Summing up: Good and patriotic South Korean Christians traveled to Afghanistan on their own, were kidnapped by a murderous gang of Muslim brigands, two of their number including their pastor were murdered, their women were raped, and the government of South Korea negotiated with the brigands, secretly paid them a lot of money while claiming they didn’t, surrendered and changed diplomatic policies to meet the brigands’ demands, made their kidnapped citizens apologize to their countrymen (and made noises about charging them for the ransom they claim they didn’t pay), and now the Taliban are claiming that South Korea hasn’t lived up to its side of the bargain and the Taliban are looking for more South Koreans to kidnap with all the loot they got from South Korea to fund their new kidnap and murder operations.

Thanks, South Korea! With friends like you, who needs enemies?

In other developments, rumors abound in Pakistan that the United States is negotiating with the Taliban on peace deals between the Taliban and NATO forces in the border areas of Afghanistan.

The new peace deals would be on the pattern of pacts struck last year in the Southwestern Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Zabul that lapsed after a while. Not only those deals would be revived but also efforts would be made to clinch new ones in Southeastern provinces of Kunar and Khost.

The deals in Helmand and Zabul were made by British leaders, who were in charge of the NATO forces in Afghanistan last year. As the included quote notes, these deals lapsed after a while. They lapsed after the US took command of NATO forces in Afghanistan. In addition, NATO forces have been thrashing the Taliban every time they make contact this year, so it would seem unwise for NATO, which is dominating this fight, to negotiate with the Taliban unless the Taliban are offering to surrender. You don’t negotiate when you are winning. That is the time to demand surrender, not to offer terms.

The true meaning of this article is that the Taliban and its Pakistani allies feel they are losing to NATO and are open to negotiations with the USA or NATO. The Taliban would gain time to rest, recruit and rearm if negotiations were successful. They will also focus on weak links in the coalition like South Korea. It remains to be seen whether the USA and NATO fall for this gambit.

Though NATO is dominating the fight, the Taliban are able to murder civilians and disrupt civilian logistics operations in southern Afghanistan. Cheered by the boost to their treasury and morale from the South Korean ransom payment, the Taliban will accelerate the tempo of kidnapping attempts, bombings, and other attacks on Afghan civilians and weak foreigners while avoiding military conflicts. NATO and USA forces will have to stay at the top of their game to continue to dominate the reinforced Taliban brigands.

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