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

Israel Has Survived Eight Years of Barack Obama’s False Friendship

Jan. 20 2017

In his speech justifying America’s decision to allow passage of the UN Security Council resolution declaring it a violation of international law for Jews to live in east Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Golan Heights, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “friends need to tell each other the hard truths.” John Podhoretz comments:

The decision in December by President Obama to abstain on the UN Security Council vote . . . marked the moment he crossed the finish line in the course he had charted from 2008 onward. The turn against Israel was complete. And, as he had when he began it, in farewell interview after farewell interview he characterized his assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in the Holy Land as an act of tough love. . . .

Which raises the key question: why [only] abstain [from the resolution]? If “hard truths” define friendship, then by all means they should have made the truths as hard as possible. If Barack Obama and John Kerry truly believe the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem is illicit, then they should have voted for the resolution. Instead, they took the coward’s way out. They opened the vault to the criminals and placed the jewels in their hands while wearing white gloves so there would be no residual trace of their fingerprints. The abstention was in some weird sense the mark of their bad conscience. They wanted something to happen while maintaining some historical deniability about their involvement in it.

In the eight years of the Obama presidency, war broke out twice between the Palestinians and the Israelis and nearly broke out a third time. In each case, the issue was not the West Bank, or east Jerusalem, or anything near. . . . The idea that the settlements and the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem are the main barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was proved to be a lie right before Obama’s eyes in 2009, and 2012, and 2014. And he didn’t care to see it, because he is blinded by an antipathy he wishes to ascribe to Israeli action when honesty would compel him to find it in his own misguided leftist ideology—or within his own soul.

Israel has survived the horrendous blessing of Barack Obama’s false friendship.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, John Kerry, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations