With all the attention Obama’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal is getting, it is easy to overlook yet another of the president’s many foreign policy success stories: the Taliban.
It is under new leadership, and has strengthened its ties with the decidedly un-“decimated” al-Qaeda terror network.
Recall that just as Obama “ended” the war in Iraq by ceding our hard-won gains to Iran and the Islamic State (the former a longtime al-Qaeda ally, the latter the spawn of al-Qaeda in Iraq), the president is similarly “ending” the war in Afghanistan by consigning the country to the resurgent Taliban.
Toward that end, even though the Taliban continued to conduct and support jihadist attacks on American troops, the president appallingly traded five of its commanders in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a deserter.
Moreover, besides its own negotiations with the Taliban — the chief enabler of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans — the Obama administration has enthusiastically supported “reconciliation” talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
The suspension of disbelief we are to indulge is that, while Kabul strikes a settlement with the Taliban, the remaining U.S. forces can exit after finishing up the training of Afghan security forces, thus enabling us to “end” the war by leaving behind a stable Afghanistan and an al-Qaeda that has been “decimated” and put “on the path to defeat.”
If you believe that one, I’ve got a peaceful nuclear energy site in Parchin you might be interested in.
In fact, the Taliban continue to wage their jihad against the Afghan government they have every intention of retaking once the last U.S. troops have pulled out, if not before. The deadly attack they executed in June against the parliament in Kabul is only one of the most recent examples.
And significantly, the Taliban is continuing its campaign under new leadership with intimate ties to al-Qaeda.
As Tom Joscelyn and Bill Roggio have been reporting at the Long War Journal, the Taliban has finally confirmed that longtime leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is dead. There remains mystery about when Omar’s demise took place — it may have been over two years ago, though some insiders claim it was more recent. In any event, the group has named a new leader: Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.
Mansour was Omar’s deputy while the latter gave sanctuary to al-Qaeda in the years prior to 9/11 — years during which al-Qaeda bombed the United States embassies in Eastern Africa and the U.S.S. Cole as it docked in Yemen.
As Tom and Bill note, Mansour recently described al-Qaeda’s leaders as the “heroes of the current jihadist era.”
Tellingly, the Taliban has announced that Sirajuddin (Siraj) Haqqani is now Mullah Mansour’s deputy. Siraj Haqqani is the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a legendary jihadist who was among Osama bin Laden’s closest and most important allies.
As Tom and Bill report, the trove of documents U.S. special forces seized from bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound when the terror emir was killed illustrate that Siraj Haqqani was collaborating closely with al-Qaeda right up to bin Laden’s death, including playing a key role in an assault on the U.S. base in Bagram in May 2010.
As an aide informed bin Laden:
The last special operation we participated in was [the Bagram operation], in summary: We cooperated with Siraj Haqqani and another commander down there (Kabul/Bagram)…. [The plan was to] sneak into the Bagram base with the infiltrators unit wearing explosives vests, a good amount of Kalashnikov ammunition, some with Beka [a machine gun, called BKC in Arabic], and some with R.P.G. [rocket propelled grenades].
According to U.S. officials, new Taliban deputy Siraj is also a member of al-Qaeda’s top counsel (the Shura Majlis). He has been a specially designated global terrorist under U.S. law since 2008, and the prior $200,000 reward for information leading to his capture was subsequently upped to $5 million, an indication of the major threat he poses to American national security interests.
So just to let you know, Afghanistan is going real well. Now, let’s get back to “solving” Iran’s nuclear program …