Afghanistan, Iran, and Petraeus’ Real Challenge

The Obama Administration’s determination to simultaneously inflict
“pain” on the Taliban and on Iran to force both parties to negotiating
tables on American terms will backfire. It will, in fact, accelerate
Afghanistan’s descent into renewed civil war–with a regional “proxy”
war between Iran, on the one hand, and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, on the
other, added on.

Last week, in announcing General Stanley McChrystal’s replacement as
senior U.S. military commander in Afghanistan by General David Petraeus,
President Obama assured the American people that “this is a change in
personnel but it is not a change in policy”. As Senate confirmation
hearings for Petraeus’ new appointment convene this week, that is
precisely what should worry the American people, for current policy is
setting the stage for a resumption of civil war in
Afghanistan–recreating the conditions under which Al-Qa’ida first
established a safe-haven there in the 1990s.

As America positions itself to begin withdrawing forces from
Afghanistan next year, reality is slowly but inexorably forcing the
Obama Administration to accommodate Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s
drive for a political deal with the Taliban and its principal external
backers, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. But, in the political and security
vacuum that is today’s Afghanistan, Karzai’s effor…

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