British Embassy Tehran
- The Taliban's response to the British embassy's goodwill gesture is telling
- Diplomatic engagement with the Taliban will not produce any results until the terrorist group is defeated militarily
- Taliban has stepped up violence and assassinations of government officials, further deepened ties with al Qaeda
Last night, the British embassy in Kabul hosted an Iftar party on the occasion of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The guest list included senior ex-members of the Taliban regime. One photo from the event shows British ambassador William Patey posing cheerfully with Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan.
The Taliban's response to the embassy's goodwill gesture is telling. Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers stormed the British Council office in Kabul this morning, killing at least eight Afghan policemen and taking over the compound for several hours. The Taliban's spokesman said the group carried out the attack to mark the anniversary of Afghanistan's independence from Great Britain in 1919.
In his June 22 troop-withdrawal speech, President Obama stressed the need for a "political settlement" in Afghanistan and added that "America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban." U.S. officials were optimistic that their "confidence-building" talks with Tayeb Agha, a former bodyguard of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, will lead to a diplomatic breakthrough with the Taliban. But the talks have stalled as Tayeb Agha has disappeared. Last year, a senior Taliban leader transported in a NATO helicopter to Kabul for peace talks turned out to be an impostor--a shopkeeper from Quetta, in Pakistan.
Today's attack indicates that the policy of appeasing the Taliban has failed. Diplomatic engagement with the Taliban will not produce any results until the terrorist group is defeated militarily. One-sided engagement policy is not an exit strategy but a recipe for failure. It bolsters insurgents' confidence, divides and weakens the Afghan government, and gives incentives to Pakistan to continue backing the Taliban for its "strategic depth" once foreign troops leave the country.
Ahmad Majidyar is a senior research assistant at AEI.