Sunday, October 19, 2008


Sunday, October 19, 2008

by Damian Lataan

Recently the Taliban have sought to instigate talks that may lead to a settlement in Afghanistan which the US and their allies now concede is unwinable. Part of the concessions the Taliban are willing to make are to disassociate themselves from ‘al Qaeda’. A reader has asked me to comment on this. Here is my response.

The attitude of the Taliban with regard to ‘al Qaeda’ is indicative of the extent of influence ‘al Qaeda’ as an organisation really has in Central Asia – about zilch.

Western propagandists would like us to think that ‘al Qaeda’ is an extensive, well-organised internationalist Jihad movement with branches every place where there are American and allied forces. The reality is that ‘al Qaeda’ exists these days largely as a figment of Western propagandist’s somewhat vivid imagination and the words ‘al Qaeda’ are basically used as a convenient catchall label to define to the Western public who the ‘enemy’ is as it relates to the equally overused and inappropriately titled ‘Global War on Terror’. In nearly all cases they are, in fact, simply fighters who are resisting US domination in their respective countries. Among these fighters are those who have come from other countries to help those they consider to be their ‘brothers’ defend their country despite the fact it is not their own country. It is this air of internationalism among young Muslims wanting to help other Muslims in the fight against oppression and persecution and this notion of pan Islamic camaraderie that has given rise to the myth of ‘al Qaeda’ being the overarching enemy. They have become the perpetual enemy. There is barely any discussion in the West about any of today’s trouble spots around the globe where ‘al Qaeda’ doesn’t get a mention.

Rather than try to explain to the Western public the intricate nuances of continually shifting alliances and allegiances of America’s enemies in every theatre of fighting, it is far easier for the US and their allies to simply lump all of these enemies under the one banner called ‘al Qaeda’. And in situations where the Western public know that a particular group is known not to be ‘al Qaeda’ then they are usually referred to simply as an ‘al Qaeda’ linked terrorist organisation or some such.

The fact is the Taliban are not ‘al Qaeda’ and Osama bin Laden is very likely long dead. However, their continued ‘existence’ is required by the US and their allies in order to perpetuate the myth of ‘al Qaeda’ being a terrorist organisation that remains a threat to the West. Once the myth of ‘al Qaeda’ is exposed the US and their allies will then have no ‘enemy’. They would then have to explain what all the wars have really been all about.

The war in Afghanistan has got to the stage now where the invaders have realised that they cannot possibly ever actually ‘win’ the war against the Taliban. They could keep it going forever and a day, but they can’t actually ‘win’ it. The time has come for the two sides to talk. The Taliban realise that the West wants concessions that will make them look as though they’ve achieved something and so the Taliban are happy to play along with the idea that they’ll disassociate themselves from ‘al Qaeda’ in order to achieve their goals in Afghanistan. It works for the Taliban who get to most likely at least play a major role again in the running of their country, and it works for the US and their allies who get to keep the myth of ‘al Qaeda’ going as part of their ongoing ‘Global War on Terror’ elsewhere in the world. It also leaves the options open to reuse the ‘al Qaeda in Afghanistan’ myth if the need arises in the future if things don’t pan out after any settlement there.

Sooner or later though, the world is going to learn that ‘al Qaeda’ was merely a late twentieth-century rag-tag group of disillusioned Jihadists whose numbers probably never exceeded a hundred or so in their heyday but whose continued mythical existence into the twenty-first century was fabricated for the purposes of enhancing US imperial hegemony and neoconservative dreams of Israeli Zionist expansionism and influence in the Middle East.

posted by Damian Lataan


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