Latest Afghan Gambit

by Bing West

From the New York Times:

A bungled attempt by the Afghan government to cultivate a shadowy alliance with Islamist militants escalated into the latest flash point in the troubled relationship between Afghanistan and the United States.

The Afghan government decided to recruit proxies of its own by seeking to aid the Pakistan Taliban in their fight against Pakistan’s security forces. Tipped off to the plan, United States Special Forces raided an Afghan convoy that was ushering a senior Pakistan Taliban militant, Latif Mehsud, to Kabul for secret talks, and have Mr. Mehsud in custody.

Not only has Washington failed to persuade Pakistan to stop using militants to destabilize its neighbors —but its failure also appears to have persuaded Afghanistan to try the same thing.

Bizarre, desperate, and ill-conceived, this Afghan gambit is sure to anger Pakistan. It also illustrates the degree to which American special forces and CIA have established Afghan links throughout the ranks of Afghan officialdom. Karzai and others are sure to be taking this into consideration as they wrestle with the NATO offer to leave behind a small force. Behind the scenes, the extent of American influence inside the Iraqi forces was resented by Maliki and undoubtedly influenced his decision to place impediments in the way of leaving some U.S. troops in Iraq. Similarly, Karzai’s resentment of Americans, and his unwillingness to trust us while he pursues self-defeating fancies of his own is a powerful factor inside palace politics in Kabul.


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