Lawrence of Afghanistan’

From The Sunday Times
March 29, 2009
‘Lawrence of Afghanistan’ and the lost chance to win over Taliban fighters

British-backed efforts to woo rebels were thwarted by a duplicitous President Karzai
Stephen Grey
He looked like a native. He spoke the language. He wore a turban, long cotton pyjamas and a wool-len waistcoat. And he had a wild, scraggly beard. His hair was ginger, but Afghans came in many shades.

Captain Rob Sugden of the Cold-stream Guards had not been in Afghanistan long when he first saw this strange figure at a “reconciliation” meeting between two former Taliban leaders and a delegation of British and Afghan officials.

Sugden was in for a surprise. The “native” was not Afghan. He was Irish. His name was Michael Semple.

One of the ex-Taliban at the meeting, it transpired later, had just two business cards in his wallet: that of Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador in Kabul – and Semple’s. It was an accurate measure of this mysterious figure’s significance.

Semple, employed by the European Union, was a “political officer”, a title that evokes romantic figures such as Lawrence of Arabia, with a special knack of winning the trust of the tribes.

He struck Sugden as very laid back and “not fazed by rank or anything like that . . . he was very at ease, a calm guy. He didn’t so much lead the proceedings, but it was quite obvious that he was central to them
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Thanks for that. Interesting angle. When is the book coming out, I wonder?


At the risk of a wah, this is at the bottom of the article which I believe answers your question: Extracted from Operation Snakebite, to be published by Viking on April 2 at £16.99. Copies can be ordered for £15.29, including postage, from The Sunday Times BooksFirst on on 0845 271 2135.
Nice to know I was right finally :)

We know Karzai and his coterie is the problem, what happens come the elections?

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