London Convenes Around Afghanistan

A market in Afghanistan via CU’s ISERP

The BBC News reports that Thursday’s London conference on Afghanistan, attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and 60 foreign ministers is not about withdrawal from Afghanistan. Yet words like “transferring primacy” to Afghan forces and “talking to the Taliban”.

The British government, who called the conference, is putting pressure on the situation. officials say the conference will have three aims:

- The first is to lay out a security plan for Afghanistan, including a ‘reintegration fund’ to entice Taliban fighters away from war into peace. This is not the first time such teminology and goals have been expressed. There’s not supposed to be an end date expressed, and yet analysts suggest we will hear some.

- The second aim of the conference is to encourage better governance and more effective aid.

- The third aim is to persuade Afghanistan’s neighbors to do more. Pre-talks are being held in Istanbul on that topic.

Fundamental to the effort is reassessing the role and goals of today’s Taliban in Afghanistan.

Al Jazeera reports that a UN Security Council panel has removed five senior Taliban officials from its sanctions list. The five Taliban leaders are believed to be ‘moderate Taliban officials’ with whom Karzai can dialogue.

Sir Rodric Braithwaite, former British ambassador to Moscow who is writing a book on the Soviet role in Afghanistan, said: “The Americans, and therefore we, are redefining our goals. via BBC News

“Instead of demonising the Taliban, we now contemplate the possibility that some of them could become part of the solution, an Afghanistan run by the Afghans themselves. That is welcome, the beginning of strategy.

“But it takes two to tango, and the Taliban may believe that they have less to gain by talking to President Karzai and his foreign supporters than by sitting it out until we leave anyhow.

“The path to the exit door is still likely to be protracted, tortuous, and bloody.”