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US taking Saudi help to make Taliban part ways with Qaeda?

Source: PTI
March 12, 2009 20:23 IST
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In a bid to end the anti-jihad war, the United States has asked Saudi Arabia to secretly negotiate with the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and persuade them to part ways with the Al-Qaeda so as to deny the jihadis their last safe havens in those two countries.

As a consequence, Saudi interests in Pakistan might be attacked in the near future by the trans-national terrorists, a report 'Pakistan: A Bogus Threat and the Bigger Picture' prepared by the US-based private global intelligence firm, Stratfor, said.

The Americans think this would bring closure to the US-jihadist war, it said. The report cites the "recent" visit by Taliban officials to Saudi Arabia and the trips made by Riyadh's intelligence chief, Prince Muqrin bin Abdel-Aziz, to Pakistan and Afghanistan to establish its point.

Pakistan is Al-Qaeda's battleground, and any threat to their continued haven there poses a big threat to them especially if the Saudis can play a role in persuading the Afghan Taliban also to turn against them, the report said.

"The US response to 9/11 placed the Saudis and the Pakistanis into a very difficult position, where they were forced to fight jihadists on one hand and try to maintain control and influence over them on the other. The Saudis possessed the resources to effectively clamp down on the Al-Qaeda franchise in the kingdom, but Pakistan, which is weaker both financially and politically and which has become the centre of the jihadist universe on the physical battlefield has been hit much harder by the US-jihadist war," the Stratfor report says.

"This situation, along with the ground reality in Afghanistan, has forced the United States to begin working on a political strategy to bring closure to the US-jihadist war that involves negotiating with the Taliban if they part ways with Al-Qaeda and the trans national jihadists," it said.

Referring to the Saudi efforts, the report said "The Saudi monarch, King Abdullah, is also rumoured to be personally involved behind the scenes in efforts to pressure the Taliban leaders to break free from Qaeda,".

"The Saudis obviously have much to offer the Pakistanis, in terms of both cash and experience, Stratfor says.

"They also have the religious cachet that other Pakistan allies, such as the Americans and the British, lack, giving them the ability to broach ideological subjects," the report added.

"However, as is the case with the Afghan Taliban, the Saudis will have to get the Pakistani Taliban to part ways with the Al Qaeda and are working hard to drive a wedge between Pakistani militants and their foreign guests," the Stratfor report also said.

The report also said that these efforts to divide the Taliban from the global jihadis are happening not only during the plush, Saudi-sponsored trips for Taliban members to conduct Hajj and Umrah in the kingdom, but also through meetings with the Taliban commanders on the ground to twist their arms and offer them cash.

They are also coordinating very closely with the Pakistani and Afghan authorities. The report gave the example of Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who had travelled to Saudi Arabia in January at the invitation of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdul-Aziz to discuss improving counter terrorism cooperation.

"Caught between US, Pakistani and Saudi forces, the last thing Al-Qaeda wants is to lose local support from the Taliban. In other words, Pakistan is their final battleground, and any threat to their continued haven in Pakistan poses a clear and present danger to the organisation especially if the Saudis can play a pivotal role in persuading the Taliban in Afghanistan also to turn against them," the report stated giving reasons why the Saudi establishments in Pakistan are under threat.

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