I.H.T. Op-Ed Contributor - The Taliban and Reconciliation - NYTimes.com: "1) The coalition surge and the expansion of Afghan forces must change the balance of power against the insurgents, confronting them with prospects for defeat; 2) The Karzai government must become more effective; 3) A regional solution must be found for South Asia to induce Pakistan to stop allowing its territory to be used as a sanctuary by the Taliban; and 4) The Obama administration must change the regional perception that it intends to begin disengaging from Afghanistan after 18 months."
The former US ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, now with CSIS, talks about the four points necessary for success and reconciliation and integration in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, according to the same, only the first is being pursued. As before, the mission is a tall order. The article points out that the main problem right now is that the Taliban is not on a losing streak.
Nils Horner, the excellent Asia correspondent for SR, had arranged an interview with a senior Taliban leader that lives in Kabul who interestingly said that the Taliban was not against the education of women. They had just not had the proper resources to deal with this question? If this is true, it might be a very important step forward for future reconciliation, should the conditions permit. This question is probably very important for the public support of the NATO mission in Sweden. Upon the recent death of the two officers and their interpreter support for the Swedish mission has increased.
A step back for the mission was given the other day when the future support from the Netherlands was jeopardized by the fall of their government. The two major parties in a coalition the center-right Christian Democrats and Labour could not agree. In Sweden the Social Democrats are divided and if the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating we might find ourselves in a situation like that in the Netherlands. Apparently the region where they are situated, Uruzgan, neighboring Helmand, is one of the best controlled and was to serve as an example for others. The Netherlands have lost 21 of their 2,000 troops. Furthermore, the Uruzgan province suffered the death of 30 civilians in a recent NATO attack.
The fourth point of Khalilzad above is particularly difficult to satisfy since President Obama promised the beginning of removal of troops in July 2011. This would mean that Afghan troops would be able to replace NATO troops something that has been questioned in articles in the New York Times recently. However, there has recently been the capture of two Taliban heads in Pakistan which might mean that point three is in progress. It seems, however, that the military action against Talibans in Pakistan that begun lately have fizzled.