Obama Faces Major Challenge in Afghanistan/ Pakistan

Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post reports that Obama is considering a regional approach to the Afghanistan war that would extend to negotiating with Iran and with “reconcilable” elements of the Taliban.

Certainly, some new policies are desperately needed, and whatever Bush was doing over there was just making things worse over time. Afghans are still upset over Sunday’s air strike, which killed dozens of innocent civilians at a wedding party.

On the Pakistan side of the border, a suicide bomber killed 3 and wounded 20 outside the stadium in the major northwestern city of Peshawar.

Embarrassingly enough, Pakistani Taliban just hujacked a convoy of NATO materiel on the Peshawar-Torkham highway. They had been brazenly driving around the Humvees before the Pakistani military counter-attacked and recovered the materiel.

On the Afghanistan side, Poppy-growing and the narcotics traffic have become ever greater problems, raising the specter of narco-terrorism.

The Karzai government is riddled with corruption; the president just had to fire his transportation minister for suspicion of embezzlement with regard to the pilgrimage to Mecca.

As for negotiations, it turns out that there are no irreconcilable Taliban. Even Mullah Omar may be part of talks.

The groups called Taliban now are made up of four major organizations: The “old Taliban” of Mullah Omar, based in Quetta; the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP), led by Beitullah Mahsud in the tribal agencies of Pakistan; the Hizb-i Islami of Gulabadin Hekmatyar; and the grouping around Jalaluddin Haqqani.

Hekmatyar’s group has also been involved in negotiations sponsored by Saudi Arabia.

Aljazeera English reports on the challenges facing Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans and the challenges facing the Obama administration in coming up with the estimated $600 bn. it will take to care for them.

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