Walid Phares: Obama Must Not Back Down From Defeating Taliban

Thursday, 03 Sep 2009 06:35 PM

By Jim Meyers

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Global terrorism and Middle East expert Walid Phares tells Newsmax that President Barack Obama's administration must have been consulted before Britain released the Muslim terrorist convicted in the Lockerbie bombing.

Phares also said that if the Taliban had remained in power in Afghanistan, they would now be in control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

Phares has conducted briefings at the U.S. State Department and United Nations Security Council. His latest book is "The Confrontation: Winning the War Against Future Jihad."

See Video: Walid Phares tells why Obama must not give up on Afghanistan - Click Here Now

Newsmax.TV's Kathleen Walter asked Phares for his view on the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of killing 270 people when a transatlantic airliner crashed near Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988, after a bomb exploded on board.

Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison, but the terminally ill prisoner was released by authorities on August 20 on "compassionate grounds."

"This would be the case if he was an assassin of one person under very complex circumstances," said Phares.

"But this is a terrorist who did mass murder.

"What we are hearing from reports, including from the son of [Libyan dictator] Moammar Gadhafi, is that this has been part of a negotiation between the Libyan regime and the UK government.

And some are now suggesting that the Obama administration even knew about it, which is very normal. I cannot imagine that London would free a terrorist that killed both British citizens and American citizens without at least consulting with Washington. It's impossible."

Turning to Afghanistan, Walter asked Phares if he believes nation building can be successful in that war-torn country.

"A nation-building strategy can work only if on the one hand we push military efforts to make sure that the Taliban have no power in establishing exclusive zones of control," he responded.

"And that's something that the U.S., NATO and their allies can do. Our military have proven in Iraq that they were able to do it.

"But the second component of that strategy is that we need to engage with civil society, with those who are against the Taliban — youth, women, social workers, artists, people who can promise the Afghan society that the next society they want to build is not the Taliban suppressive society."

Phares said the allies need to "strengthen the Afghani army — that we can do — and also engage with the democracy forces inside Afghani society. That is something we haven't done."

In light of the gloom and doom reports coming out of Afghanistan of late, does Phares see any positive developments there? Walter asked.

"There are two strategic positive developments that have taken place since at least early 2002," he said.

"Number one, we are basically denying the Taliban a safe haven for eight years. Imagine what they could have done in eight years. They could have seized Afghanistan, moved inside Waziristan from Afghanistan, and by now they most likely would have planted their flag in Islamabad [Pakistan], in control of the nukes. That did not happen. That is a victory.

"The second thing is that in those eight years, nine years now, a younger generation of Afghani kids, students, are now age 18, 19. They will become the next generation of soldiers and officers in the Afghani army, the teachers in the schools, and they are going to be our partners."

Asked if the war in Afghanistan is winnable, Phares said: "I think [war] is winnable anywhere against the jihadists if we ally ourselves with the anti-jihadists."

See Video: Walid Phares tells why Obama must not give up on Afghanistan - Click Here Now

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