US President Barack Obama is treading on fragile soil wearing stilettoes by saying he’ll reach out to the moderate faction in the Taliban. For what Mr. Obama calls moderates do not fit in the definition of the word. Perhaps he is drawing a parallel to liberals and conservatives in his own part of the world. Unfortunately, things are slightly more complicated than that.
The Taliban, as we all know, are a fundamentalist group, who consider a very rigid interpretation of the Sharia to be the universal constitution. What happened in Afghanistan during those years of Taliban rule is testimony to that. People were killed for no apparent reason, women were stoned to death for amusement (yes, that’s what I’d state the reason as: amusement), non-Pashtuni tribes were massacred in the name of I-don’t-know-who (surely not Allah, since these tribes were Muslim too). They had control over every aspect of life in Afghanistan for five years; for five years, people were slaves in their own homeland. I personally consider the Taliban far ahead of the Hamas when it comes to downright fundamentalism. And now what do we hear? Moderates among the Taliban. Fundamentalist, yet moderate, oh yes.
My question is, what kind of moderates do you expect to find in this dark abyss? Take a notorious mob of rapist-murderers rapist-murderers-beheaders as an example. Imagine you’re in a city where this mob is active. So one day if you find that a couple of men in the mob only rape and murder, and are reluctant to behead their victims, do you reach out to those two as instruments of change? Perhaps Mr. Obama is so preoccupied with his ideas of change that he thinks there can be a change in everything. And if he thinks that the Taliban can change too, then I’m sorry, but he needs to do a bit of homework on Islamist fundamentalism.
Perhaps this all stems from the fact that even after launching a full-scale war aiding a resistance against the Taliban, the US hasn’t been able to wipe it out. Now, it has regrouped, and it’s power is rising, not only in Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan. Mr. Obama knows he faces a resurgent enemy, against which conventional tactics are of little use. So he pops out a new card, and surprisingly, he’s sure he’s right. Oh yes, even his predecessor was right when he forced a regime change in Kabul (I say Kabul because the rest of Afghanistan is mostly out of government control).
I’m not here to suggest any new and radical ways to combat the Taliban threat. I’m only afraid that Mr. Obama will ultimately end up pumping money into these so-called moderate factions of the Taliban, and restore it to its original might. There are no moderates among fundamentalists. They are either fundamentalists, or extremists. Mr. Obama has time in office. I hope he sorts this out.