June 27, 2010

Haqqani and Karzai Rendezvous

Was it a ghost or did Sirajuddin Haqqani just swoop through Kabul for secret negotiations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai? The New York Times reported earlier this week that Pakistan is trying to strike a deal with the Haqqani network, based in North Waziristan, in order to avert a full scale invasion and grab its piece of the pie.

Washington isn’t biting and has drafted contingency plans for unilateral operations.

But Karzai, allegedly losing faith that America will defeat the Taliban, is working backchannels to subvert US opposition against high level negotiations. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is already lurking behind the curtains and now Haqqani, who until this point has refused negotiations with Karzai, may be as well. They in turn could potentially set the table for Taliban chief Mullah Omar.

Karzai’s office naturally denies any meetings took place - the issue is divisive inside his inner circle and in Washington - so it’s hard to analyze concrete information yet. Regardless, the rumors by themselves are the latest shots fired into the heart of President Barack Obama’s surge.

Perception can be as real as reality in an insurgency.


  1. Karzai loses faith in a coalition who had already lost faith in him. Highest coalition losses so far. Exit McChrystal, Sir Jock Stirrup and Sir Bill Jeffrey (lesser known but key Coalition figures) in the last few weeks. The word clusterfuck spring to mind? The surge in Iraq merely allowed for a discreet exit by most of the occupiers. The mess remains. A mirror for Afghanistan. I can see Obama's political grave coming into view across those snow-capped mountains.

  2. Forgot to mention Christopher Hill 'retiring'.

  3. While Obama claims America won't "turn off the lights and head for the door" in July 2011, that is in fact what he's doing in Iraq. A potential withdrawal from Afghanistan (which we doubt more each day, in light of US officials' testimony) could end up very similar to Iraq - politically deadlocked and exploitable to regional entities. CIA Director Leon Panetta tried to cut off Haqqani today by disavowing high-level negotiations, but that seems to be where the conflict is headed. Not only could America bog itself down for another 2 or 4 years, it could still leave Afghanistan in disarray, with the Taliban a staple in the political system.

    Hill may soon find himself in Afghanistan if Ryan Crocker isn't tapped as Eikenberry's replacement. Hill is supposedly close with US envoy Richard Holbrooke.

  4. The Pak ISI will broker this deal, and it will benefit Pakistan.
    Eventually in the very long run the whole region will be a semi-Islamic Republic.
    They have an open door in Iraq where they can re enter the chaos at any time. Al Sadr is now saying that Maliki is not fit to lead. They will try the same with Afghanistan. Iran influences Iraq, while Pakistan influences Afghanistan.

    Who does the U.S. influence?

  5. In three years the region may be completely different. Iran may end up with more influence than America in Iraq, especially if Iraqis believe Obama is abandoning them to pursue Afghanistan, while Pakistan goes after Kabul. Will that leave America empty-handed? Surely not, as Washington will claw for every scrap of power and resources. But Washington's position in West Asia naturally decreases over time, like a body rejecting a foreign object.

    When everything is said and done in Afghanistan, America is very likely to walk away from a state where the Taliban possesses power in the legitimate political process. And that is the antithesis of US objectives.

  6. "The enemy of my enemy is my enemy."

    This will hold true, as we are seen as the invaders and occupiers in the region.