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An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban / Al-Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010 [Hardcover]

Alex Strick van Linschoten , Felix Kuehn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Jan 2012
To this day the belief is widespread that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are in many respects synonymous, that their ideology and objectives are closely intertwined and that they have made common cause against the West for decades. Such opinions have been stridently supported by politicians, media pundits and senior military figures, yet they have hardly ever been scrutinised or tested empirically. This is all the more surprising given that the West's present entanglement in Afghanistan is commonly predicated on the need to defeat the Taliban in order to forestall further terrorist attacks worldwide. There is thus an urgent need to re-examine the known facts of the Taliban-al Qaeda relationship and to tell the story of the Taliban's encounter with internationalist militant Islamism, which is what Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn set out to do in An Enemy We Created. Their book also responds to the overheated rhetoric that sustains a one-sided interpretation of the alleged merger between the two groups as well as the policy implications for Afghanistan that flowed in the wake of its acceptance by Western governments and their militaries. The relationship between the two groups and the individuals who established them is undeniably complex, and has remained so for many years. Links between the Taliban and al-Qaeda were retained in the face of a shared enemy following the invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks, an adversary that was selected by al-Qaeda rather than by the Taliban, and which led the latter to become entangled in a war that was not of its choosing. This book is the first to examine in detail the relationship from the Taliban s perspective based on Arabic, Dari and Pashtu sources, drawing on the authors many years experience in southern Afghanistan, the Taliban s heartland. They also interviewed Taliban decision-makers, field commanders and ordinary fighters while immersing themselves in Kandahar s society. Van Linschoten s and Kuehn s forensic examination of the evolution of the two groups allows the background and historical context that informed their respective ideologies to come to the fore. The story of those individuals who were to become their key decision-makers, and the relationships among all those involved, from the mid-1990s onwards, reveal how complex the interactions were between the Taliban and al-Qaeda and how they frequently diverged rather than converged. An Enemy We Created concludes that there is room to engage the Taliban on the issues of renouncing al-Qaeda and guaranteeing that Afghanistan will deny sanctuary to international terrorists. Yet the insurgency is changing, and it could soon be too late to find a political solution. The authors contend that certain aspects of the campaign in Afghanistan, especially night raids and attempts to fragment and decapitate the Taliban, are transforming the resistance, creating more opportunities for al-Qaeda and helping it to attain its objectives.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd (18 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849041547
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849041546
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 608,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'The authors' research and scholarship make a powerful case and their book is likely to become the definitive text on the matter.' ----International Affairs

'Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the war in Afghanistan. In offering a forensic dissection of the relationship between al Qaeda and the Taliban, over many years, it offers bad news, and good news: that, in taking on the Taliban, we may be fighting the wrong enemy in the wrong country; but that the Taliban may be open to a negotiated settlement-provided America gets on with it.' ----Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, British Ambassador to Kabul 2007-2009, Special Representative for Afghanistan

'This book is one of the best informed, most sophisticated and most insightful works yet to appear on the Afghan Taliban and their relationship to Al-Qaeda. It makes a brilliant contribution to Afghan historiography, and should be compulsory reading for Western policymakers working on Afghanistan today.' ----Professor Anatol Lieven, King's College London

About the Author

Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn are researchers and writers permanently based in Kandahar. They have worked in Afghanistan since 2006, focusing on the Taliban insurgency and the history of southern Afghanistan over the past four decades. Their research extends to other Muslim countries and they are regular commentators on major western news channels.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New insight into the Taliban's world view 20 April 2012
Format:Hardcover
I recommend this book for anybody seeking a clearer understanding of the Taliban's worldview, and in particular its relationship with al Qaeda.
Through meticulous research conducted through documents and interviews, the authors have built up the most detailed study I have read on the linkages between the two movements.
They are particularly insightful in explaining how outsiders often misinterpreted Mullah Omar's motivations due to their lack of understanding of the cultural norms in southern Afghanistan, which played a major role in shaping his outlook.
This is a must-read for anybody seeking to go beyond the usual narratives on the Afghan conflict and look through the eyes of the chief protagonists.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars totally comprehensive 30 Mar 2012
Format:Hardcover
Since we starting taking the war in Afghanistan seriously, from 2006 onwards, Alex and Felix have shown a commitment to understanding the country that puts every other correspondent and commentator to shame. By really living among the people, talking to them about everything, listening patiently and soaking up all of the information that never makes it into the 24 hour news cycle, they have accumulated knowledge that is unsurpassed. Their latest book, An Enemy We Created, is revelatory on every page, often in every paragraph. Read it, and you'll soon realise how little most experts know, and how little even our policy makers know. It's a powerhouse of a book that will change the way you talk and think about Afghanistan, and our stated reasons for being there.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Enemy We Created 13 Feb 2012
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent book, and a courageous one. It tells a different story on the relationship between the Taliban and Al Qaeda from that which dominates Western narratives since 9/11, and which remains at the core of the intervention in Afghanistan. It is also the result of on-the-ground research in places where few westerners venture. Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn provide a wealth of new insight into the mindset of the Taliban leadership, especially regarding their relationship with the wider world -- Al Qaeda, Pakistan and the West. I highly recommend their book to anyone working on Afghanistan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars AnEnemy we created 19 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Everything my husband was expecting from the book. Very enjoyable read. It was very quick in coming. Up to your usual standard
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful 31 Mar 2012
By B J Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Since we starting taking the war in Afghanistan seriously, from 2006 onwards, Alex and Felix have shown a commitment to understanding the country that puts every other correspondent and commentator to shame. By really living among the people, talking to them about everything, listening patiently and soaking up all of the information that never makes it into the 24 hour news cycle, they have accumulated knowledge that is unsurpassed. Their latest book, An Enemy We Created, is revelatory on every page, often in every paragraph. Read it, and you'll soon realise how little most experts know, and how little even our policy makers know. It's a powerhouse of a book that will change the way you talk and think about Afghanistan, and our stated reasons for being there.
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