“…The United States still sees the battle in Afghanistan as a two-sided counterinsurgency, and its focus is on the military situation. In fact, Afghanistan is facing multidimensional threats involving all of its key neighbors.
…Events are reminiscent of the 1990s, when the bloody Afghan civil war was fueled by an alignment of India, Iran and Russia, which backed the Northern Alliance against the Taliban regime supported by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Today, however, the stakes are much higher. India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. Al-Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and elsewhere are on the loose. NATO’s gains in Afghanistan are fragile. Afghan ethnic divisions already weaken the country; a divide fueled by neighboring states could spark a political and security meltdown.
…The Obama administration must start asserting major diplomatic pressure to ease regional tensions. It needs all of Afghanistan’s neighbors to agree on a common position of non-interference.
The longer the United States and NATO delay about whether to talk to the Taliban, the greater the turmoil will be in and around Afghanistan. Risks of a wider conflict will grow, an opening that al-Qaeda and other extremist groups will press."
2010-03-17 06:42:46 UTC