16:08 GMT +322 July 2018
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    U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis gestures during a press briefing on the campaign to defeat ISIS at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2017

    US Talks with Taliban Won't Bring ‘Anything We Would Recognize as Peace'

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    After arriving in Afghanistan Tuesday to meet with senior US and Afghan officials, Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis told reporters that the Taliban leadership is showing an interest in ending the nearly 17-year-long war.

    "There is interest that we've picked up from the Taliban side even going before the Kabul conference," Mattis told reporters, referring to the February conference in which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani suggested talks with the Taliban. "We've had some groups of the Taliban, small groups, who have either started to come over or expressed an interest in talking."

    Mattis later added that the US is defining a victory in Afghanistan as a political reconciliation between all parties, not a military victory.

    "In other words, it may not be that the whole Taliban comes over in one fell swoop," he said. "That may be a bridge too far to expect, but there are elements of the Taliban clearly interested in talking to the Afghan government… so we're going to encourage that."

    ​Speaking to Sputnik Radio's Loud & Clear, Brian Terrell, a long-time peace activist and a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, suggested that talks were not likely going to be "good for anybody in Afghanistan."

    "Just a few months ago, [US] President [Donald] Trump said ‘we're not about nation-building, we're about killing bad guys'… this is a departure," Terrell told show hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. "At this time, with the shakeup in the US State Department… this is the closest thing to a diplomat in the administration… this is a general named ‘Mad Dog Mattis' who's going to be involved in peace talks with the Taliban… This isn't good for anybody in Afghanistan."

    "It's always been warlords that the United States has been propping up and it won't matter whether these are going to be called the Northern Alliance, the Afghan government or the Taliban," he added.

    For Terrell, any peace arrived at will "be on US terms."

    "It's a peace that's going to leave the markets and the availability of mineral wealth of Afghanistan open to US companies," he said. "A succession of hostilities that will lead to an advantage to Iran, China or Russia is not a desired peace and I think the question is… not just about who's going to die for a mistake but ‘is this a mistake or is it a crime'… ‘is this matter of… nation building efforts that have failed… or is this a systematic and very successful organized attack on a civil society in Afghanistan?'"

    "I don't think this is any kind of step towards anything that we would recognize as peace," the activist pointed out.
    "Whether you call it the Taliban or ISIS [Daesh] or whatever, it's an insurgency against an occupation. It will continue in one way or another as long as the occupation continues… for a long time it's been said… that the Taliban only continues to exist because of the occupation."

    "Whether you call it the Taliban or ISIS [Daesh] or whatever, it's an insurgency against an occupation. It will continue in one way or another as long as the occupation continues… for a long time it's been said… that the Taliban only continues to exist because of the occupation."

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