Key Date: May 21
A presidential vote is constitutionally required by May 21 but is not scheduled until August 20, raising the question of whether Karzai will step down and appoint a caretaker government in the interim.
Key Date: August 20
War or Negotiation?
Indeed, negotiations seem already to have begun. Westerners and representatives of
The idea of a compromise solution is not new. Tribal leaders called for talks at least as far back as August 2007. Karzai acknowledged contacts with the Taliban in April 2007 and has clearly not been averse to considering a negotiated settlement. As for
· King Abdullah reportedly met a Taliban delegation in October.
· Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, head of Saudi intelligence, is reportedly brokering talks.
According to Abdul Hakim Mujahid, a Taliban official before 9/11 and now working for Karzai,
The Saudi government is doing its best to get peace talks going but there may be big problems if the Americans carry out this big offensive in the wrong way. That kind of action will lead to anger and help those in the Taliban who do not believe in any kind of negotiations. So it is important that we start doing things before this offensive starts and the international community should try to persuade the
The role of
One possible strategy for Washington would be to accept that it cannot control Afghanistan or remodel Afghanistan in the American image and therefore to conclude that its goal should be only to get a stable regime that would oppose international jihad in return for being able to run its domestic affairs without interference. The logical outcome of such a perspective would be to make a deal with the Taliban that splits it off from al Qua’ida. Efforts along these lines, whether supported by
Behind the scenes, there has also been quiet work by people like Abdullah Anas, an Algerian who fought in
For the last two years, in an effort supported by Mr. Karzai, Mr. Anas has been lobbying influential Muslim clerics and international leaders of jihads in an attempt to draw the Taliban away from Al Qaeda and to bring peace to Afghanistan, according to an Afghan military attaché working on the plan.
Defense Secretary Gates indicated willingness to support such an outcome in October.
All these moves toward compromise notwithstanding,