Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Political Landscape

Better late than never: 14 more ex-Taleban delisted

Thomas Ruttig 8 min

The UNSC sanctions committee has taken 14 more former Taleban off the black list. Among them are three dead men, four Higher Peace Council (HPC) members, seven former deputy ministers and a former ambassador (categories overlap), the president of the Taleban Academy of Sciences and four low-ranking, former Taleban diplomats. AAN’s Senior Analyst Thomas Ruttig looks at what the composition of this list means.

Veteran Pakistani journalist, Rahimullah Yusufzai, is absolutely right when he wrote in The Newson 18 July (read the article in fullhere):

Ten among the 14 former Taliban officials removed by the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee from the blacklist on Saturday were so unknown that Peter Wittig, the Germany ambassador to the UN who is heading the Security Council in July, didn’t even feel the need to provide their names to the media.

Indeed, it took a few days (there was a weekend in between) for the UN to finally manage to get the full list out. And it was so carefully hidden on the sanctions committee’s homepage that the author needed external help to locate the press release. (You can find it here and the updated full list ishere.)

All in all, this new list of 14 additional names clearly reflects where we stand on ‘reconciliation’: it has yet to seriously begin. What has now been done is merely the weeding out of former Taleban who have been living openly in Afghanistan for years; some of them are members of the – by foreign governments and Kabul – much (although wrongly) praised Higher Peace Council, one ran for parliament and several were only ever low-ranking diplomats. Three men are dead, including the former Taleban ‘Prime Minister’ Mulla Muhammad Rabbani who died during the Taleban era – indeed only a few months after being black-listed in early 2001. This de-listing speaks for the sorry state of this so-called political process.

All this delisting of not-any-more Taleban could and should have been done years ago. But the Afghan government never really pushed for it. Apparently it took it ages to submit the necessary forms and to compose convincing arguments in favour of delisting, with – presumably – UN staff or other people doing this work for them, as so often happens. This lazy attitude does not reflect a political willingness or a strategy for talks. Neither did UN member-states whose soldiers are dying in Afghanistan take the initiative for such a step earlier.

It is good that delisting – as one possible first, confidence-building measure for future talks – has started now. But it is starting far too late, as everything else. As, for example, the German/Qatari/US exploratory talks with Taleban representatives described by Ahmed Rashid (read his report here). Also, the pace of these technical measures is far too slow. Probably, confidence will only be built if some of those who are already talking on behalf of the Taleban leadership get off the list. Of course, they should also be told then that confidence-building measures cannot be a one-way road.

The same goes for ‘the talks’ themselves. For too long, Bush’s ‘we don’t talk to terrorists’ has stood in the way of attempts to find out whether a political solution with the Taleban was possible. (That it is desirable should not be controversial any more.) After that, came Petraeus’ surge which closed the door towards some Taleban, including leading ones, who were considering political avenues. Some optimists now think that with Petraeus promoted up the ladder and the appointment of a new general enjoying less dominance over political decisions, the road might finally be opened up for serious political work. Let’s hope they’re right. (I reserve the right to be sceptical until I see this; after all, there was the same hope when – remember? – McKiernan, McChrystal and finally, King David himself came in.)

With all this delay, we consequently cannot be sure whether we will reach the aim – meaningful talks – before we arrive at the Western-established finishing line at the end of 2014. If the West leaves Afghanistan without an acceptable political solution at least visible at the horizon, it could just result in prolonged bloodshed and, as ANSO has recently described it as a ‘permanently-escalating stalemate’. This, then, will continue as long as the balance of power remains significantly unaltered – i.e. until most Western troops really do pull out. What comes next – another civil war? -, no one wants to imagine.

Back to the details of ‘reconciliation’, however. What I currently find a more interesting question is: What is Mulla Za’if talking about when he says that ‘[p]articipants have disappeared after [talks]’? (Read a translation of this interview on our blog here.)

Are the Pakistanis doing an Operation Baradar 2? You remember the wave of arrests, ‘invitations’ for meeting s with their minders who reminded them of not leaving the (Pakistani) line etc in early 2010, after alleged talks between Mulla Omar’s then deputy, Mulla Baradar, and the late Ahmad Wali Karzai in Spin Boldak at the AfPak border?

Annex: the list of 14

1 – Mawlawi Arsala Rahmani s/o Muhammad Daulat, Deputy Minister of Higher Education during the IEA, now HPC member

2 – Habibullah Fawzi, Taleban ambassador to Saudi Arabia, now HPC member

3 – Sayyed-ur-Rahman Haqqani, Deputy Minister of Mines & Industries as well as Deputy Minister of Public Works during the IEA, also former diplomat at IEA Embassy in Islamabad; now HPC member

4 – Rahmatullah Wahidyar s/o Faqir Muhammad, Deputy Minister for Refugee Affairs during the IEA, now HPC member

5 – Muhammad Rabbani, Chairman of the Kabul-based IEA Ruling Council (Council of Ministers), deceased in Pakistan in April 2001

6 – Rafi’ullah Mu’azzen, deputy chief of the IEA Supreme Court, deceased

7 – Muhammad Sediq Akhun(d)zada, Deputy Minister for Martyr and Repatriation

8 – Rahimullah Zurmati, Deputy Ministry of Information & Culture

9 – Abdul Ghaffur, Deputy Minister of Agriculture

10 – Muhammad Sohail Shahin, Second Secretary at the Taleban Embassy in Islamabad, also worked with IEA’s Sharia newspaper

11 – Shamsullah K(a)malzada, Second Secretary at the Taleban Embassy in Abu Dhabi

12 – Sayyed Allamuddin Athir, Second Secretary of the T consulate general in Peshawar

13 – Muhammad Husain Mustasa’id, Head of the Academy of Sciences, deceased in Zabul 2007

14 – Muhammad Daud, Administrative Attache at the Taleban Embassy in Islamabad

The UNSC sanctions committee has taken 14 more former Taleban off the black list. Among them are three dead men, four Higher Peace Council (HPC) members, seven former deputy ministers and a former ambassador (categories overlap), the president of the Taleban Academy of Sciences and four low-ranking, former Taleban diplomats. AAN’s Senior Analyst Thomas Ruttig looks at what the composition of this list means.

Veteran Pakistani journalist, Rahimullah Yusufzai, is absolutely right when he wrote in The Newson 18 July (read the article in fullhere):

Ten among the 14 former Taliban officials removed by the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee from the blacklist on Saturday were so unknown that Peter Wittig, the Germany ambassador to the UN who is heading the Security Council in July, didn’t even feel the need to provide their names to the media.

Indeed, it took a few days (there was a weekend in between) for the UN to finally manage to get the full list out. And it was so carefully hidden on the sanctions committee’s homepage that the author needed external help to locate the press release. (You can find it here and the updated full list ishere.)

All in all, this new list of 14 additional names clearly reflects where we stand on ‘reconciliation’: it has yet to seriously begin. What has now been done is merely the weeding out of former Taleban who have been living openly in Afghanistan for years; some of them are members of the – by foreign governments and Kabul – much (although wrongly) praised Higher Peace Council, one ran for parliament and several were only ever low-ranking diplomats. Three men are dead, including the former Taleban ‘Prime Minister’ Mulla Muhammad Rabbani who died during the Taleban era – indeed only a few months after being black-listed in early 2001. This de-listing speaks for the sorry state of this so-called political process.

All this delisting of not-any-more Taleban could and should have been done years ago. But the Afghan government never really pushed for it. Apparently it took it ages to submit the necessary forms and to compose convincing arguments in favour of delisting, with – presumably – UN staff or other people doing this work for them, as so often happens. This lazy attitude does not reflect a political willingness or a strategy for talks. Neither did UN member-states whose soldiers are dying in Afghanistan take the initiative for such a step earlier.

It is good that delisting – as one possible first, confidence-building measure for future talks – has started now. But it is starting far too late, as everything else. As, for example, the German/Qatari/US exploratory talks with Taleban representatives described by Ahmed Rashid (read his report here). Also, the pace of these technical measures is far too slow. Probably, confidence will only be built if some of those who are already talking on behalf of the Taleban leadership get off the list. Of course, they should also be told then that confidence-building measures cannot be a one-way road.

The same goes for ‘the talks’ themselves. For too long, Bush’s ‘we don’t talk to terrorists’ has stood in the way of attempts to find out whether a political solution with the Taleban was possible. (That it is desirable should not be controversial any more.) After that, came Petraeus’ surge which closed the door towards some Taleban, including leading ones, who were considering political avenues. Some optimists now think that with Petraeus promoted up the ladder and the appointment of a new general enjoying less dominance over political decisions, the road might finally be opened up for serious political work. Let’s hope they’re right. (I reserve the right to be sceptical until I see this; after all, there was the same hope when – remember? – McKiernan, McChrystal and finally, King David himself came in.)

With all this delay, we consequently cannot be sure whether we will reach the aim – meaningful talks – before we arrive at the Western-established finishing line at the end of 2014. If the West leaves Afghanistan without an acceptable political solution at least visible at the horizon, it could just result in prolonged bloodshed and, as ANSO has recently described it as a ‘permanently-escalating stalemate’. This, then, will continue as long as the balance of power remains significantly unaltered – i.e. until most Western troops really do pull out. What comes next – another civil war? -, no one wants to imagine.

Back to the details of ‘reconciliation’, however. What I currently find a more interesting question is: What is Mulla Za’if talking about when he says that ‘[p]articipants have disappeared after [talks]’? (Read a translation of this interview on our blog here.)

Are the Pakistanis doing an Operation Baradar 2? You remember the wave of arrests, ‘invitations’ for meeting s with their minders who reminded them of not leaving the (Pakistani) line etc in early 2010, after alleged talks between Mulla Omar’s then deputy, Mulla Baradar, and the late Ahmad Wali Karzai in Spin Boldak at the AfPak border?

Annex: the list of 14

1 – Mawlawi Arsala Rahmani s/o Muhammad Daulat, Deputy Minister of Higher Education during the IEA, now HPC member

2 – Habibullah Fawzi, Taleban ambassador to Saudi Arabia, now HPC member

3 – Sayyed-ur-Rahman Haqqani, Deputy Minister of Mines & Industries as well as Deputy Minister of Public Works during the IEA, also former diplomat at IEA Embassy in Islamabad; now HPC member

4 – Rahmatullah Wahidyar s/o Faqir Muhammad, Deputy Minister for Refugee Affairs during the IEA, now HPC member

5 – Muhammad Rabbani, Chairman of the Kabul-based IEA Ruling Council (Council of Ministers), deceased in Pakistan in April 2001

6 – Rafi’ullah Mu’azzen, deputy chief of the IEA Supreme Court, deceased

7 – Muhammad Sediq Akhun(d)zada, Deputy Minister for Martyr and Repatriation

8 – Rahimullah Zurmati, Deputy Ministry of Information & Culture

9 – Abdul Ghaffur, Deputy Minister of Agriculture

10 – Muhammad Sohail Shahin, Second Secretary at the Taleban Embassy in Islamabad, also worked with IEA’s Sharia newspaper

11 – Shamsullah K(a)malzada, Second Secretary at the Taleban Embassy in Abu Dhabi

12 – Sayyed Allamuddin Athir, Second Secretary of the T consulate general in Peshawar

13 – Muhammad Husain Mustasa’id, Head of the Academy of Sciences, deceased in Zabul 2007

14 – Muhammad Daud, Administrative Attache at the Taleban Embassy in Islamabad

Tags:

Taleban reconciliation HPC delisting UNSC

Authors: