IRAN AND AFGHANISTAN
Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has become quite adept at dealing with the US media. In a public relations offensive since he has arrived for the United Nations annual general assembly opening he has stuck to his talking points, managing the tough questions effectively. He clearly outsmarted CNN’s Larry King by sticking to his talking points on the two American citizens jailed in Iran, nuclear weapons and Middle East peace.
Behind the scenes information about US policy in Afghanistan as disclosed in Bob Woodward’s book on the Obama administration confirms what appeared to me to be quite obvious. Afghanistan is not winnable for the US, whatever that benchmark is. There is only one way forward and out: the United States and its regional allies will have to accelerate a negotiated truce with the Taliban and try to bring them into the political process, distasteful as this might be. The future of Afghanistan is in Afghan hands, as incompetent as those hands might have been if we went by past record. Finally, a cross section of Pakistani clerics will have to be invited to serve as mediators with the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, since they are part of the same franchise, albeit with different leadership structures. Dealing with one and not the other will be a strategic mistake.