Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Afghanistan: Talking with the Taliban?

According to this morning's Post, Hamid Karzai extended an invitation to the Taliban to a peace conference to be held this spring or summer. The article is by Karen DeYoung and Joshua Partlow, here.

423. It seems like there are more co-written articles in the newspapers nowadays than several years ago. Is that right? Is this a function of the changing economics of the newspaper industry? Is there typically a lead "writer" and a lead "reporter," or is the writing really a collaborative effort? It seems to me like it would be hard to produce a co-written article on a short time deadline.

Evidently, the British are pushing for discussions with the Taliban sooner rather than later, whereas some Americans are arguing that we need to wait until there's been clearer progress from the recent offensive. I cannot tell whether the effort to control Marja is succeeding or not (the news has been absolutely dominated by health care this past week - lots of articles attempting to count Democrats' votes in the House).

Here's an excerpt about the Afghan government's back-and-forth approach to reconciliation:
The Afghan government has begun laying the groundwork for more significant accommodation with at least some Taliban members. At Kabul's urging in January, Russia lifted its opposition to removing five former Taliban members from the U.N. Security Council sanctions list, ending restrictions on their assets and travel. "In terms of reconciliation, these five people will be useful," said Zahir Faqiri, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.

The government has also put into force a law granting amnesty to all those involved in fighting before and after the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban, provided they respect the Afghan constitution. The legislation, passed by parliament in 2007, had receded into the background after Karzai refused to sign it, only to suddenly emerge as law this year when it was printed in the official gazette without explanation.

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