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Petraeus Admits There’s No Al Qaeda in Afghanistan Anymore – War Over

Posted by Steve Hynd on May 11th, 2009

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“Mission creep” is when you keep inventing new reasons for the mission continuing long after the original objective has been accomplished. Fox News reported General David Petraeus’ statement that the original UN-mandated mission for coalition forces in Afghanistan has been accomplished .

The head of U.S. Central Command said Sunday that Al Qaeda is no longer operating in Afghanistan, with its senior leadership having moved to the western region of Pakistan.

Gen. David Petraeus said affiliated groups have “enclaves and sanctuaries” in Afghanistan and that “tentacles of Al Qaeda” have touched countries throughout the Middle East and northern Africa. But he said the terrorist group has suffered” very significant losses” in recent months.

“Affiliated groups” means “anyone we say is a Taliban militant”, in the same way that the Iraqi insurgency used to be conflated into being just an Al Qaeda operation, ignoring Baadrists, Sadrists, Baathists and opportunists entirely. But Petraeus is only admitting what the US military has known since at least last November, when journalist Douglas Saunders was in Afghanistan asking pinted questions. As he wrote on his return in December:

Earlier this year, I visited several regions of Afghanistan and asked military leaders in regions held by British, Canadian and U.S. forces how many al-Qaeda fighters they were seeing within the country’s borders. In all cases, the answer was “none.”

…Afghanistan-based writer Anand Gopal is probably the most well-connected observer of the insurgent groups. He has come to the same conclusion as my Globe and Mail colleague Graeme Smith, who has conducted video interviews with dozens of Taliban fighters and found no sign of al-Qaeda sympathies.

“The Afghan rebellion remains mostly a homegrown affair,” Mr. Gopal wrote last month. “Foreign fighters – especially al-Qaeda – have little ideological influence on most of the insurgency, and most Afghans keep their distance from such outsiders. Al-Qaeda’s vision of global jihad doesn’t resonate in the rugged highlands and windswept deserts of southern Afghanistan.”

Saunders noted back then that coalition soldiers are authorized to oust the Taliban, but only insofar as those “Taliban” are the ones who are going to allow al-Qaeda to operate again. That’s just not going to happen – the Taliban in Afghanistan have as little intention of allowing Al Qaeda a safe haven again as their compatriots in Kabul do. Which means, as Saunders also pointed out, that the war should be officially over.

Article 51 of Chapter VII guarantees “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations” – in this case, the al-Qaeda attacks against the U.S. and other countries launched from within the former Taliban administration in Afghanistan. As the UN and the ISAF members have repeatedly asserted, preventing a future Sept. 11 is the raison d’être of the Afghan war. Everything else, no matter how noble, is time-filler.

…Al-Qaeda is gone, and not likely to return. To the extent that it is still around, it’s because we’re attracting it.

If both those statements are true, then no matter how ugly it looks, the war’s over

There is no longer any rationale for the current UN mandate for the occupation of Afghanistan. The US military, the Bush administration and now the Obama administration are engaging in mission creep beyond that rationale; firstly by invoking the “you bought it, you own fix it” Pottery Barn deception – the real Pottery barn rule always was “you broke it, you pay for fixing/replacing it and get the f**k out of our store” – and by redefining the battlefield as “Af/Pak” so that the UN mandate can be, entirely illegitimately, stretched into sovereign Pakistan. Petraeus admits to the latter mission creep too:

Still, he [Petraeus] said he believes Usama bin Laden and his No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri remain in charge of the terrorist network.

“They surface periodically. We see communications that they send out,” Petraeus said.

Though Petraeus said nobody can provide an accurate location for either terrorist, he said Al Qaeda senior leadership clearly is rooted in the border region of western Pakistan.

“There’s no question that Al Qaeda’s senior leadership has been there and has been in operation for years,” Petraeus said.

But aggressive military action of any kind against Pakistan should require a whole new UN Mandate, as should a continuing occupation of Afghanistan now that Al Qaeda has been ousted there. Those new mandated missions also require the UN, not the Obama administration, to clearly set out conditions for their fulfillment. In the absence of those, it’s time to bring the troops home because by the Commander of CentCom’s own admission the legitimate war is over. Instead, Obama and his COIN-loving liberal interventionists are expecting the now-illegal occupation to extend another ten or fifteen years – at a cost in excess of a trillion dollars and with no benchmarks for success or exit strategies in evidence.

(Also on Newshoggers)

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to “Petraeus Admits There’s No Al Qaeda in Afghanistan Anymore – War Over”

  1. [...] In summary, the United States attacked Afghanistan with about as much intelligence as it had for Iraq — none at all. Not only did Afghanistan not attack the U.S., nor did the Taliban, nor are the Taliban and Al Qaeda the same, nor did the Al Qaeda leader claim responsibility, nor was evidenced furnished…but now it seems that Al Qaeda is no longer even in Afghanistan. Says who? Says General David Petraeus, repeatedly, that’s who. [...]

  2. [...] As the Taliban has spread to the point that there is substantial Taliban military activity in 97% of Afghanistan (source) and heavy activity in 80%, are they promising “global jihad”? No, quite the contrary: “Afghan Taliban say they pose no threat to the West.” What if you do not believe them? “If the Taliban did return to power, I believe we are strong enough to deter them from attacking us again by strong and credible punishment and by containing them with regional allies like India, China and Russia,” said former State Department official Leslie Gelb (source). But surely their Al Qaeda “friends” will take advantage of the return of the Taliban? With a force numbering perhaps as few as 100? As Obama’s National Security Adviser, General James Jones said: “The al Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies” (source). Yet, if one asks General David Petraeus, he says repeatedly that there is no al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan (source). [...]

  3. [...] so the big one is al-Qa’eda. That’s been done for like a year now. We don’t want the Taliban to overthrow the government? Done, the Taliban are negotiating [...]

  4. [...] so the big one is al-Qa'eda. That's been done for like a year now. We don't want the Taliban to overthrow the government? Done, the Taliban are negotiating with the [...]

  5. [...] so the big one is al-Qa’eda. That’s been done for like a year now. We don’t want the Taliban to overthrow the government? Done, the Taliban are negotiating [...]

  6. [...] so the big one is al-Qa’eda. That’s been done for like a year now. We don’t want the Taliban to overthrow the government? Done, the Taliban are negotiating [...]

  7. [...] so the big one is al-Qa’eda. That’s been done for like a year now. We don’t want the Taliban to overthrow the government? Done, the Taliban are negotiating [...]

  8. [...] so the big target is denial of an Afghanistan for al-Qa’eda. That’s been done for like a year now. We don’t want the Taliban to overthrow the government? Done, the Taliban are negotiating [...]

  9. [...] the kooky COIN reference, and he still thinks al-Qa’eda is in Afghanistan, so not much of a news junkie, but the saddest part has to be building “Afghani” [...]

  10. [...] Sestak the lefty insurgent supports the severe escalation of 30,000 troops (y’know, cuz of all the al-Qa’eda’s there) and doesn’t support the McGovern bill. HR 5015 only calls for a timeline, not even a [...]

  11. [...] Sestak the lefty insurgent supports the severe escalation of 30,000 troops (y’know, cuz of all the al-Qa’eda’s there) and doesn’t support the McGovern bill. HR 5015 only calls for a timeline, not even a [...]

  12. [...] Sestak the lefty insurgent supports the severe escalation of 30,000 troops (y'know, cuz of all the al-Qa'eda's there) and doesn't support the McGovern bill. HR 5015 only calls for a timeline, not even a withdrawal. [...]

  13. [...] Sestak the lefty insurgent supports the severe escalation of 30,000 troops (y'know, cuz of all the al-Qa'eda's there) and doesn't support the McGovern bill. HR 5015 only calls for a timeline, not even a withdrawal. [...]

  14. [...] Sestak the lefty insurgent supports the severe escalation of 30,000 troops (y'know, cuz of all the al-Qa'eda's there) and doesn't support the McGovern bill. HR 5015 only calls for a timeline, not even a withdrawal. [...]

  15. [...] Sestak the lefty insurgent supports the severe escalation of 30,000 troops (y’know, cuz of all the al-Qa’eda’s there) and doesn’t support the McGovern bill. HR 5015 only calls for a timeline, not even a [...]

  16. [...] Sestak the lefty insurgent supports the severe escalation of 30,000 troops (y’know, cuz of all the al-Qa’eda’s there) and doesn’t support the McGovern bill. HR 5015 only calls for a timeline, not even a [...]

  17. [...] came to defeat Al-Qa’eda, and that’s pretty much done, the rest are all in Pakistan. We wanted to break the Taliban’s momentum, and that’s [...]

  18. [...] came to defeat Al-Qa’eda, and that’s pretty much done, the rest are all in Pakistan. We wanted to break the Taliban’s momentum, and that’s [...]

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