A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, May 17, 2010

Turki al-Faisal Slams US Policy in Afghanistan

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, longtime head of Saudi Intelligence and later Ambassador to London and Washington, has given a speech in which he sharply criticized US policies in Afghanistan. He has argued that US policy towards Hamid Karzai "beggars disbelief and amazement. Both sides are now filled with resentment and a sour taste in their mouths."

For a figure with such close ties to the US, it's a sharp critique. He urges the US to "get the terrorists, declare victory, and get out." Here's the longer version:
Afghanistan has a special place in my heart. I not only love the country and its people, but I also believe that it has not been given its due of peace and prosperity. It is a clear example of unilateral and naked ambition on the part of a former super power to change the status quo without regard to moral principle, international law, or human consideration. Alas, we have seen that repeated in Iraq by the other super power. What Afghanistan needs, now, is a shift from nation building to effectively countering terrorists. The point has been made that America and the rest of the world cannot accept that any country be the launching ground of terrorist activity as Afghanistan was from 1997 until today. The moral high ground which America acquired after September 11th has been dissipated since then because of American negligence, ignorance, and arrogance. Mr. Obama's declared policy in Afghanistan is to go after the terrorists. He should do so. He should not be misdirected into believing that he can fix Afghanistan's ills by military means. Hunt down the terrorists on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border, arrest them or kill them, and get out; and let the Afghan people deal with their problems. As long as GI boots remain on Afghan soil, they remain targets of resistance for the Afghan people and ideological mercenaries. The inept way in which this Administration has dealt with President Karzai beggars disbelief and amazement. Both sides are now filled with resentment and a sour taste in their mouths. How can they both get out of that situation, I don't know. Nor can I pretend that future resentment and bad taste will not happen. The attempts being made now are a step in the right direction. That is why I suggest that America get the terrorists, declare victory, and get out. The Taliban of today are no longer the exclusively Pashtun warriors who ruled Afghanistan until 2002. They are now any and every Afghan of whatever ilk who raises arms against the foreign invaders. By declaring them the enemy, America has declared the people of Afghanistan the enemy. Here also, there should be no more platitudes and good wishes. Boots on the ground, chasing the terrorists is what is needed.

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