Afghan settlement would leave no room for al Qaeda-Pakistan

Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:16pm EST
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By Myra MacDonald

LONDON (Reuters) - A political settlement in Afghanistan would leave no room for al Qaeda, which would have to "fall in line or leave the region," a senior Pakistani politician said on Thursday.

Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, a member of the ruling coalition who is also seen as sympathetic to the Taliban, told Reuters he was in favor of talks to end the war in Afghanistan.

The fate of al Qaeda -- holed up on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border -- was linked to the political situation in the region.

"Once stakeholders are ready for a solution, this would squeeze the room for al Qaeda," Rehman, who is head of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam party, said.

"Al Qaeda will have to fall in line or leave the region."

He declined to say what he meant by "fall in line."

Security analysts say al Qaeda's core leadership will want to do everything it can to stay on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border because it has been its most assured safe haven, thanks to alliances with local militants going back more than 20 years and the region's challenging geography.

But if the region becomes untenable the leadership may consider moving elsewhere, perhaps to Yemen, where al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the closest of any of the group's offshoots to the senior leadership, some analysts say.   Continued...