Hekmatyar on German TV

Thomas Ruttig, on the subject of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s recent German TV interview, asks why now and why to Germans?

‘In the ZDF interview, it became very obvious that Hekmatyar tried to walk on a political tight-rope. He apparently felt that he had to positively address different audiences. To the West, he projected himself as someone who might be willing to talk peace under certain circumstances although his Palestine remark might not earn him much credibility. To the Taliban who recently criticized him and fought his fighters, he presented himself as a good co-Mujahid with Islamic principles who is not soft at all vis-a-vis the “occupying forces” and Karzai. A HIG delegation, led by one of his sons-in-law and his deputy Ghairat Bahir had visited Kabul earlier this year and was even granted a meeting with the president himself — a remarkable gesture given that the talks were later declared “unsuccessful” (by HIG)…

…HIG is known for good connections to Germany from the 1980s when many mujahedin supporters found political asylum there. Amongst them, there were many HIG sympathizers, and HIG had an (unofficial) office in Bonn, in the form of an Afghan refugee association. HIG fighters were involved in a training programme for cameramen in Germany, to accompany the Stinger missiles newly acquired from the U.S. (see Charlie Wilson’s War) and to show how effective they were. (I met one of them by chance during a walk in Paghman a few years ago.) This was part of a larger programme called “Gläsernes Afghanistan” (something like “Transparent Afghanistan”) pushed by Wilson’s German equivalent, MP Jürgen Todenhöfer, a former right-winger (Brezhnev’s spokesman wanted to “flog and shoot” him) who turned into an opponent of the current war in Afghanistan (“Bin Laden killed less people than Bush”). Also, some journalists and aid workers maintain connections with Hekmatyar. As a result, leading HIG figures on their rounds though Kabul’s embassies and political offices during the drawn-out registration process of the legal wing of their party during 2005-2006, leading HIG figures radiated a lot of pro-German sympathy whenever they met a German.’

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