Articles > > A Reprehensible Suggestion

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-09-04
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

I have a suggestion that will appear reprehensible to all my readers: Take a page out of the Taliban's book.
The Taliban is engaged in serious negotiations with the U.S. It dictated its preconditions for setting up negotiations without participation from the pro-Washington Kabul government's delegation, and it got what it wanted. And yet, the smooth flow of the negotiations, which are approached the finishing line (as Washington has repeatedly stated) did not prevent the Taliban from launching powerful strikes against Washington and its allies across Afghan territory. Some of the Taliban's operations are unquestionably terrorist and have targeted civilians indiscriminately. Nevertheless, the negotiations have continued and the Taliban have continued to fight. Washington has continued to negotiate, and it has also continued to register daily losses.
This is not the first instance of such tactics; many peoples have resorted to them before. The Vietnamese fought and negotiated until they got what they wanted, and Washington haphazardly pulled out of Saigon with its tail drooped between its legs in defeat. Images of its agents hanging to evacuation helicopters over the roof of its embassy remain vivid in our memories.
We Arabs have not had much success in either fighting or negotiating. We laid down our arms early and adopted peace as our only strategic option before restoring any of our rights or even securing an acknowledgment of the basic principle that we have rights. We gathered our guns in the warehouses until they rusted, and entered a marathon of futile negotiations with no teeth or claws. The result was that we were called upon to offer concession upon concession even after all the concessions that we have already offered on the altar of what came to be known as the 'peace process', and even though it started out as the 'liberation and restoration of rights process.
Matters did not end here. We began to borrow from Israel's alleged narrative of 'historic rights' and 'the children of Abraham' and 'a people without a land'. We have transitioned from condemning Israel's repeated aggressions and violations, to condemning our compatriots [such as Hezbollah] who have responded to them. Even those who limited their resistance to words and stances have not been spared the reckless arrows and cruel punishments wrapped in the folds of some of our brethren's stances and policies.
The Taliban is a designated terrorist organization, and is the incubator of bin Laden's al-Qa'ida. 9/11 was planned on its territory, and dozens of terrorist operations have been launched in all directions from this same territory. And yet, everything seems to be forgiven, for behold how the Taliban's sheikhs and elders, whom we have long underestimated, are practically forcing the most powerful country in the world to concede to their full terms: No U.S. soldier will remain on Afghan soil, and the Taliban will not give up its weapons either before or after their withdrawal. The only thing it has committed to is to refrain from turning Afghanistan into a haven for terrorist organizations targeting the West.
The Taliban's sheikhs and elders have succeeded where we failed. They have proven for the thousandth time that the world only listens to the powerful, and that we are weak and distracted. It is the Taliban's sheikhs and elders that have taken to heart our own slogan: 'What was taken by force can only be restored by force' We have expended all our energy in repeating and chanting that phrase without actually putting our words to action.
We have even failed to use force in its 'soft' sense. We have scoffed at the idea of armed force, but none of us has resorted to the sources of soft power in our possession: Our money, oil, markets, international relations, media and cultural weapons, etc. Even talk of 'forcing the occupation' to retreat or raising its cost now smacks of a kind of pathetic nationalist or revolutionary zealotry, and those who mention such ideas are accused of backwardness.
The Taliban have succeeded while we have failed. The Taliban are prevailing victorious over the most powerful country in the world, while we suffer defeat at the hands of its regional proxy [Israel].
Do we not have every right to call for taking a page out of the Taliban's book?