Officials Defend Afghan Escalation, Citing Dubious al-Qaeda Ties With Taliban

Less Than 100 al-Qaeda 'Ordering Around' Insurgency, Officials Imply

Facing popular unrest at yesterday’s announcement of a massive escalation of the war in Afghanistan, officials in the Obama Administration are on the attack and issuing claims of dubious veracity aimed at convincing the public of the necessity of continuing the war, already in its ninth year.

Questions about the need to have 100,000 American troops occupying the nation to combat what intelligence estimates say are at most 100 al-Qaeda fighters have been met on two fronts, most directly with the claim that even 100 of them “can do a hell of a lot of damage.”

But perhaps even more incredibly, officials have taken the pre-invasion Taliban ties with al-Qaeda to a whole new level, implying that the Taliban are “taking orders” from the handful of al-Qaeda fighters left in Afghanistan.

Portraying both groups as an undifferentiated mass known as “the enemy” is of no small political value, transforming less than 100 fighters into an army with tens of thousands of full time members and even more auxiliaries. But is it accurate?

Not if all those reports officials have advanced about peace talks with the Taliban are true. Indeed, as far back as October of 2008 officials were saying the Taliban had severed all ties with al-Qaeda. Even putting aside these reports, the claim that the former Afghan government is “taking orders” from the remnants of a small terrorist outfit seems to fly in the face of all evidence on their mutual relationship.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.