President Obama is famously a basketball fan, preferring to watch games rather than TV talking heads during his weekend downtime. Now the country he leads is contemplating the notion of putting up a fadeaway jumper on its way to the Afghan exit:
The Obama administration is considering transferring to Afghan custody a senior Taliban official suspected of major human rights abuses as part of a long-shot bid to improve the prospects of a peace deal in Afghanistan, Reuters has learned.
The potential hand-over of Mohammed Fazl, a ‘high-risk detainee’ held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison since early 2002, has set off alarms on Capitol Hill and among some U.S. intelligence officials.
As a senior commander of the Taliban army, Fazl is alleged to be responsible for the killing of thousands of Afghanistan’s minority Shi’ite Muslims between 1998 and 2001…
Senior U.S. officials have said their 10-month-long effort to set up substantive negotiations between the weak government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban has reached a make-or-break moment. Reuters reported earlier this month that they are proposing an exchange of “confidence-building measures,” including the transfer of five detainees from Guantanamo and the establishment of a Taliban office outside of Afghanistan…
The detainees, the officials emphasized, would not be set free, but remain in some sort of further custody. It is unclear precisely what conditions they would be held under.
A talking shop in Dubai is one thing. Releasing a terrorist with the blood of thousands on his hands is another thing entirely. It can only be viewed by the Afghan Taliban as provocative weakness.
Already the Taliban have shifted fires, starting to focus their efforts on the Afghan national security forces upon whose slender shoulders lie hopes for a dignified withdrawal of foreign forces:
Ten members of a British-trained Afghan force were killed by a roadside bomb in the south of the country on Thursday, and an Afghan soldier in the east killed another soldier and two French sergeants, near the end of a year marked by violence reflecting a key shift in insurgent strategy.
With the attacks, the Taliban, who claimed responsibility, took aim at the central element of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization plan to pull out most foreign forces by the end of 2014: Training trustworthy Afghan security forces that can take on the job of protecting their own country.
This past year has seen the second-highest annual number of fatalities for foreign forces in Afghanistan since the war began 10 years ago. U.S. military fatalities, while dropping 17% from 2010, were much higher in 2011 than at any other time in the war. The number of Afghan civilian deaths continued to climb, according to recent United Nations statistics.
These then are those whom we are attempting to forge an agreement with through “confidence-building measures.”