Russia Tries to Bring the Taliban into Its Anti-U.S. Alliance

Russia, after years of claiming that the West must not interfere with the Assad regime since it is fighting Islamic State (IS), is now attempting to apply the same logic to the Taliban. At a recent gathering in Moscow, Russian, Chinese, and Pakistani officials called on other countries to develop “flexible” policies toward the radical group, pushing it as the less “extremist” alternative. Russia’s real goal, writes Thomas Joscelyn, is to advance its fight against America and NATO:

[Contrary to Russian claims], the Taliban isn’t interested in “peace and security.” The jihadist group wants to win the Afghan war and it is using negotiations with regional and international powers to improve its standing. The Taliban has long manipulated “peace” negotiations with the U.S. and Western powers as a pretext for undoing international sanctions that limit the ability of its senior figures to travel abroad for lucrative fundraising and other purposes, even while offering no serious gestures toward peace. . . .

Russia is now enabling the Taliban’s disingenuous diplomacy by pretending that IS is the more worrisome threat. It’s a game the Russians have been playing for more than a year.
Zamir Kabulov, who serves as Vladimir Putin’s special representative for Afghanistan, . . . even conceded that Russia and the Taliban have “channels for exchanging information.”

The American commanders leading the fight in Afghanistan don’t buy Russia’s argument—at all. During a press briefing on December 2, General John W. Nicholson Jr., the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, [declared that the] “public legitimacy that Russia lends to the Taliban is not based on fact, but it is used as a way to essentially undermine the Afghan government and the NATO effort and bolster the belligerents.” While Nicholson was careful not read too much into Russia’s motivation for backing the Taliban, he noted [that] “certainly there’s a competition with NATO.”

Read more at Daily Beast

More about: Afghanistan, ISIS, NATO, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy

The State Department Seems to Be Covering Up Palestinian Incitement

July 26 2017

Last week, the U.S. State Department released its annual report on global terrorism in the year 2016, and, for apparently the tenth consecutive year, the report defended the Palestinian Authority in language identical or nearly identical to that used in years before. For example, the 2016 report notes that “The PA has taken significant steps during President [Mahmoud] Abbas’s tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence.” That same sentence also appeared in the department’s reports for 2015, 2014 and 2013. Similar repetition of language from those years and years earlier can be found across the report.

What’s going on? “Two prominent former Israeli diplomats are charging that the State Department is recycling parts of its old reports in order to whitewash the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) incitement to violence,” Rafael Medoff writes, quoting the former Israeli diplomat Alan Baker:

[According to Baker], State Department officials seem to be “taking previous reports and copying them, making slight changes where they consider it relevant,” instead of objectively assessing the PA’s most recent behavior.

Baker said that not only has the PA failed to take “significant steps” against incitement, but “the opposite is the case—their own actions, statements and publications, naming streets and squares after terrorists, formally paying fees to terrorist families, all point to a distinctive step backward in violation of Palestinian commitments pursuant to the Oslo Accords.”

The result, Baker said, is that “the Palestinians see it as a license to continue and as support for their struggle. If the State Department closes a blind eye, this is tantamount to giving a green light.”

[According to a second Israeli diplomat], the State Department slants its reports about the PA because the department “fears that its own words will be used to buttress congressional efforts to cut aid to the PA. . . . ”

Read more at JNS

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, Politics & Current Affairs, State Department