The Good Guys Win
Self-appointed Emir of Afghanistan, Protector of the Faithful, Potentate-for-Life, the Caliph Mullah Mohammed Omar has agreed to surrender Kandahar, according to both the Taliban and forces loyal to Hamid Karzai.
Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan and an absolute paragon of honesty, said the Taliban would begin handing over weapons to Mullah Naqib Ullah on Friday. Ordinary Taliban gunmen, torturers and thugs would be free to return to their homes. Karzai has agreed to Naqib Ullah, a member of the Jamiat-e-Islami party, becoming governor of Kandahar. Naqib Ullah now leads one of several groups fighting the Taliban. "Mullah Omar has taken the decision for the welfare of the people, to avoid casualties and to save the life and dignity of Afghans," Zaeef said. The handover is expected to take three or four days.
The fact that there is an agreement is no guarantee that it will be executed; this is Afghanistan, after all. The Moolah is a graduate of the Yasser Arafat School of Honesty and Good Faith. A previous agreement fell apart when he had a dream of ruling Kandahar for the rest of his life. There is no guarantee there won't be more dreams. But at least the agreement is a start. There is probably a better than 50-50 chance the Taliban will carry it out.
As for al-Qaeda: "They have to leave Afghanistan," Karzai said of the Arabs, Pakistanis, Chechens, Uzbeks, Californians and other sweepings. "They have to face justice. They (must) just stop what they are doing, leave my country and face international justice."
Tora Bora is as impregnable as al-Qaeda can make it, but with its exits sealed our side still wins. Perhaps 500 years from now archaeologists can find the shriveled, mummified remains of Osama bin Laden, his wives, children and henchmen, and piece together how it was they happened to starve to death in such a remote place. More likely, the Afghans will end up going in after them and earning their $25 million the hard way.
Even Zaeef admitted the Taliban was finished as a political movement. "I think we should go home," he said. One could almost feel sorry for him, if it is possible to feel sympathy for a sadist.
Hamid Karzai says there are no details on what will happen to the Protector of the Faithful. "Those are the details that we still have to work out. I'm not saying anything right now," he said. Zaeef says that Omar would be allowed to live in Kandahar under Naqib Ullah's protection. The United States wants the Emir at least jugged for his his support of al-Qaeda and his participation in the war. Even though they haven't said so publicly both President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld both feel Mullah Omar's neck is unbecomingly short and should be stretched. That was what happened to Najibullah, the Communist ruler, when the Taliban siezed power. That was also what happened to Abdul Haq a month and a half ago. Or he could be forced to stand in front of a wall and count muzzle blasts. It wouldn't really matter either way.
More likely, and despite the bad effect it will have on relations between the new Afghan government and the US, Omar will remain in Kandahar "under house arrest." At some time in the future he could be a useful pawn in the internal politics of the country. If he becomes tiresome he will die of "natural causes" (don't eat the apricots!) If he provides enough service he may "escape," to live out his days comparing notes about the good old days with Idi Amin in Saudi Arabia. If someone else needs a stern warning, he could be shot "trying to escape."
Justice says Mullah Omar should be introduced as soon as possible to the joys of decomposition, but even if justice isn't done, his influence is dead. By agreeing to the surrender he reveals himself to be a vicarious hero, a man willing to tell others to fight to the last man and the last bullet, but who then stares into the face of death and flinches.
Standing in the rubble of his country, the object of worldwide revulsion, Zaeef said he was proud of what the Taliban have done in Afghanistan. "We have done a lot for the welfare of the people,'' he said. "In every village, mosque, home and province there is a Talib.''
Afghanistan is done with the mistakes of the Taliban. It has the chance to set aside the mutilations
, the hangings
, the executions at half time in the stadium
. Women need no longer be beaten
in public. And the world will be done with another regime of sadists