Thursday, May 12, 2016

Why We Fight, Chapter 38,769

After years of failed overtures, representatives of Mr. Hekmatyar, whose location is unknown, are now said to be finalizing a peace agreement with the struggling government of President Ashraf Ghani, according to representatives from both sides.

. . . .

Many fear Mr. Hekmatyar, known for his habit of breaking alliances, could be a larger political headache in Kabul than he is a military one in the battlefield, at a time when Mr. Ghani’s coalition administration is already bogged down with infighting. Although forces loyal to Mr. Hekmatyar have attacked sporadically — including a 2013 car bombing that killed 16 people, including six American advisers — they have never been considered as serious a threat as the Taliban or the Haqqani network.

Still, Mr. Hekmatyar is exceptionally divisive. He is accused of causing the deaths of thousands during the civil war, including the indiscriminate shelling of Kabul — much like rival warlords who are now allied with the government or have positions within it. After receiving copious cash and weaponry from the Americans during the war against the Soviets, he threw in his lot with remnants of the Communist government, then briefly with Taliban, and then Al Qaeda. In July last year, he was even rumored to have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, though his aides later denied it.

Through it all, he has remained a prolific writer. He frequently sends letters to his commanders and has published dozens of books on political and religious matters, with titles including “Afghanistan – Another Vietnam for America,” “Dreams and Interpretations,” and “Bush, the King of Liars.” [Hard to argue with that one – Ed.] More recently, he has also taken to recorded video messages, modulating his voice like a state-TV anchor as he recites long lectures and answers recorded questions.

 . . . .

According to officials on both sides of the negotiation, some of the last points of disagreement were 
the timing of removing Mr. Hekmatyar and the Hezb-i-Islami militant wing from American and United Nations terrorism lists, and whether Mr. Hekmatyar is willing to renounce relations with extremist groups outside Afghanistan.

Mr. Hekmatyar’s group is demanding to be taken off the terrorism lists before signing the agreement, while American officials have said the process takes time and can happen only after a formal request from the Afghan government when the agreement is signed  . . . .

The New York Times, May 11, 2016

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