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Karzai courts the Taliban



According to The New York Times, President Hamid Karzai has been reaching out to the Taliban over the past several months in an effort to negotiate a separate peace with the jihadist group:

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been engaged in secret contacts with the Taliban about reaching a peace agreement without the involvement of his American and Western allies, further corroding already strained relations with the United States.

The secret contacts appear to help explain a string of actions by Mr. Karzai that seem intended to antagonize his American backers, Western and Afghan officials said. In recent weeks, Mr. Karzai has continued to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with Washington that he negotiated, insisted on releasing hardened Taliban militants from prison and distributed distorted evidence of what he called American war crimes.

The clandestine contacts with the Taliban have borne little fruit, according to people who have been told about them. But they have helped undermine the remaining confidence between the United States and Mr. Karzai, making the already messy endgame of the Afghan conflict even more volatile. Support for the war effort in Congress has deteriorated sharply, and American officials say they are uncertain whether they can maintain even minimal security cooperation with Mr. Karzai's government or its successor after coming elections.

Karzai's move to court the Taliban should come as no surprise given his outbursts over the past several months and his refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement with the US. His recent behavior has wearied and dismayed his Western backers, and his patent self-interest in disregarding the recommendation of the Loya Jirga to endorse the BSA is not likely to endear him to fellow Afghans, either.

I addressed these issues and more last week at The Daily Beast in an article titled "Karzai Gambles with the Taliban." I concluded that no matter what Karzai's motivations are for sucking up to the Taliban, he won't be rewarded if he decides to remain in country:

Regardless of his motivations, Karzai is playing a dangerous game. If Karzai thinks his drift towards the Taliban will buy him forgiveness, he is sorely mistaken. If the US does exercise the "zero option," the full withdrawal of forces by the end of 2014, or leaves a token force unable to turn the tide against what many believe will be a resurgent Taliban capable of regaining control of large areas of Afghanistan, his most recent attempts to further negotiations with the Taliban won't save him.

Since assuming the presidency in 2004, Karzai has been the face of what the Taliban have derisively described as the "puppet" regime that serves the interests of the "Crusaders" and occupiers. No matter how much Karzai attempts to ingratiate himself with the Taliban, he would be first on the chopping block if he chose to remain in country.



READER COMMENTS: "Karzai courts the Taliban"

Posted by ahmed at February 4, 2014 5:18 PM ET:

After leaving NATO Afghanistan ,Taliban will military coup and take power again

Posted by Spiker18f at February 5, 2014 4:05 AM ET:

Amazing incompetence that they placed a drug crazed Pashtu dirtbag as prez of A-Stan.
Give Bin Laden credit for strategic thinking when he had Masood taken out just prior to 911.
If only we had competent strategic thinkers, eh??

Posted by Neonmeat at February 5, 2014 4:48 AM ET:

You can guarantee Karzai will be out of Afghanistan and living in a cushy London Mansion by the end of the year.

I think he is playing this game to get out of Afghanistan with his life. It’s not about the Afghan people who have suffered so much for gains he is about to pour down the drain.

Posted by Bungo at February 5, 2014 11:51 AM ET:

It has to be made clear to Karzai that if won't play ball with the U.S. after all we've invested in his country that he will never leave Afghanistan alive. It's as simple as that.

Posted by Afghan at February 6, 2014 10:13 AM ET:

If he wanted a safe exit for himself and his family, he would have signed the BSA 1 years ago.

But I believe he really wants to have peace for his country. The problem is that the Taliban does not.

Posted by anan at February 6, 2014 11:19 PM ET:

Afghan, I think the reason Karzai is not signing the BSA is not about Peace per say. The BSA was unanimously endorsed by Karzai's own Shura-which supposedly would not be as favorably disposed towards the BSA. The BSA would also easily pass the Afghan Parliament. Supporting the BSA plays well in Afghan domestic politics.

I think the reasons Karzai is not supporting the BSA are:
1) hates Obama, thinks (with good reason) that Obama has treated Karzai and the GIRoA with great contempt and disrespect. Karzai is getting revenge at Obama while he still can.
2) Obama tried to organize a coup against Karzai in 2009, and Karzai is afraid that Obama will try to manipulate the Afghan election again. This is why Karzai does not want to pass the BSA until after the election.
3) Karzai is suspicious that Obama is secretly trying to negotiate a deal with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Pakistani Army and Saudi Arabia in a way that helps them destroy Afghanistan and the Afghan National Army.

Supporting the BSA facilitates international funding, equipment and training for the ANA, ANP, NDS. It also promotes international trade and investment, benefiting the Afghan economy. However many Afghans are afraid that even if they sign the BSA, international training, advising, equipment and funding for the ANSF might be cut off.

Posted by EDDIED. at February 7, 2014 5:44 PM ET:

The Taliban will grab Karzai soon, like NY Times says, Karzai will be on the chopping block soon, I wouldn't doubt before America can pack and go. What a sucker!

Posted by blert at February 7, 2014 9:26 PM ET:

Taking everything into consideration...

Perhaps the President wants Karzai to take the blame for a policy move that he's already decided upon.

See: Gates.

Because the key facts are being hidden from the public, one can never really know...

But, it's as old as the hills for a dominant politician to get the 'Other Guy' to take the blame for policy decisions -- however it has to be done. One way is to insert poison pills into the deal -- on the side and on the sly. Even something as basic as a personal insult will do.

Then the dominant politician can go before the lectern and "regretfully" announce that he's compelled to turn a policy corner because of the other obstructing fellow.

"It's out of my hands."

Consequently, I'll have to withdraw American forces -- as previously announced -- by December 31, 2014....

In so doing, the Administration can get off the hook with the Pentagon and all of the NGOs of the world.

The rest of the ISAF will be out the door even sooner.

Because of the weather and the combat season, I expect that there will be a tremendous surge in departures this very Spring.

ISAF spending is collapsing...

Consequently, the Taliban are feeling the pinch... or so we are told. (I suspect that such lore is being planted by the administration to build the case for Afghan neglect. The MSM then carries the water.)

Posted by Rosario at February 8, 2014 1:11 PM ET:

Pity the Afghans, they (and we) were hoping for a George Washington, instead they received Uriah Heep.