Afghanistan headed for four-way war?

Kunar

Five months after Afghanistan’s September presidential elections, a winner has finally been declared‚ÄĒthe incumbent, Ashraf Ghani. But hours after the announcement, rival Abdullah Abdullah declared himself the victor, claiming irregularities in the vote and calling the¬†results “national treason.” Abdullah, who still serves as chief executive (a separate post from president) has issued a decree barring all election commission workers from leaving the country. The showdown portends a divided government just as¬†US is attempting to broker a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, ostensibly to be followed by “intra-Afghan talks”¬†between the Taliban and the government in Kabul. (The Guardian, Al Jazeera, CNN)

In addition to the ongoing war with the Taliban, NATO-backed government forces are continuing to battle the Islamic State’s “Khorasan Province” in Afghanistan. Following a long offensive,¬†President Ghani in November¬†triumphantly declared that ISIS had been “obliterated.”¬†However, air-strikes continue against the group in its remaining stronghold in the Spin Ghar mountains of eastern Kunar province. (Khaama Press, WaPo)

Map via Khaama Press

  1. Taliban on NY Times op-ed page

    Well, this is pretty surreal.¬†Sirajuddin Haqqani, named as¬†“deputy leader of the Taliban,” has an op-ed in the¬†New York Times, playing to pro-peace sentiment, and attempting to mollify the skeptical with a sickening reference to protecting “the rights of women that are granted by Islam.” Predictably, and depressingly, it is only the¬†political right¬†in the US that is¬†expressing any outrage over the Times opening its op-ed page to this propaganda.¬†

    This appears to indicate that in the¬†leadership shake-ups¬†of recent years, the formerly Pakistan-based¬†Haqqani Network¬†has¬†taken over¬†the Afghan Taliban.¬† Sirajuddin Haqqani was apparently the¬†target of a US drone strike¬†as recently as 2010 (as well as¬†previously), but we must ask if he is the same person as the “Siraj Haqqani”¬†named in media reportsthe following year as being offered a¬†role in the Afghan government in return for peace by US diplomats…

  2. Afghanistan: rival leaders in power-sharing deal

    Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah have signed a power-sharing deal, ending months of political uncertainty. Ghani will stay on as president while both men will choose an equal number of ministers. Abdullah will lead peace talks with the Taliban, should they get under way. (BBC News)