You know those high-level negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan that have been touted by both the Afghan and U.S. governments? Well, it turns out that they are not so high level. In fact, the negotiator may not be with the Taliban at all. The man with whom we have been negotiated as “Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour,” one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement, turns out to be a nutter from Pakistan who probably could not believe everyone was negotiating with him to design the new Afghanistan. To make this FUBAR complete, one Western official admits “we gave him a lot of money.”
American officials now admit that the guy is not Mansour but probably not Taliban. Nevertheless, the guy not only met regularly with top American officials but visited with President Hamid Karzai himself after being flown to Kabul on a NATO aircraft and brought to the presidential palace.
Recently, Gen. David H. Petraeus described positively the talks with the guy as a possible breakthrough. Yet, how do we know that is really David Petraeus? Did anyone see Petraeus before his high-profile stints in Iraq and Afghanistan. Once at a press conference, I thought I saw someone say “hey Sid!” and Petraeus turned around.
What is interesting is that the Administration moved to convince the New York Times to withhold Mr. Mansour’s name from an article about the peace talks — so not to jeopardize the sensitive talks and put Mr. Mansour’s life at risk. The Times agreed to withhold his name. They now believe the man may simply have been trying to enrich himself. There is also a suggestion that the ruse was the work of the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI), which has close ties to the Taliban and has been hostile of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.
For its part, the Taliban has always said that there are no talks at all. They appear to be telling the truth. It might have begun with an email from Nigeria saying “Hi, I am Mullah Mansour and I would like to end the war in Afghanistan. All I need is some financial help with an account in Kandahar . . .”
By the way, Mansour is like Smith as a common name in the region –making this an episode of the “Importance of Being Mansour.” We just need Oscar Wilde to write the historical account of the infatuated CIA operatives. I am just waiting for the faux Mansour to turn out to be a bearded guy named Bud Mansour from Pittsburgh who was just visiting Pakistan with a tour. I can see our crackerjack CIA station chief now going down his list “Beard? Check. Mansour sounding name? Check. Black turban? Check. Willingness to take our money? Check. Done. Fly him to Karzai.”
On a related note, I would like to announce to the Obama Administration that I am secretly Umberto III, the last of the House of Savoy and the Italian royal line. With a payment of “a large amount of money” and a private jet to Italy, I am prepared to start negotiations over the current Italian political crisis. Arrivederci, my friends. I will return following months of expected negotiations in Tuscany.
Source: NY Times
Jonathan (Umberto III) Turley