Kerry’s House of Cards

Today is September 2, the day Karzai set for the inauguration of the new president.  And with no movement in that direction, it seems as if the deal that Kerry made between the candidates is on the verge of collapse.  The LA Times, WSJ and various other sources are reporting that Abdullah is on the verge of pulling out from the process (see here and here), a decision which most are not finding surprising.  The real question is what will the fall out be from the collapsed process?

The most immediate repercussion is Karzai’s decision to send Bismullah Khan, the Minister of Defense, to the NATO conference (see DNA).  This is a reflection of just how parallelized the political process has become.   While issues of IS and the Ukraine may have come to dominate the summit anyway, this was still a key moment for the Afghan government to secure a long term commitment from NATO to stabilizing the country.  With only a Minister of Defense there, it is highly unlikely that any meaningful agreements will be reached.  Why negotiate with an outgoing minister when all the real players are in Kabul squabbling over ballot boxes?

It seems likely if things continue along this route, history will remember the US’s (and Kerry’s in particular) role in this process as primarily delaying and perhaps exacerbating the coming crisis (something that we suggested months before would be the result of pushing short term solutions to long term problems (see here)).  But ultimately, it certainly seems that it is the Afghan elite who are acting most irresponsibly.  The failure of the two candidates to respect the process, the failure of Karzai to mediate a deal and the continued pressure from the allies of candidates on them not to negotiate has ultimately brought this situation about.  With economic collapse looming, an uncertain international commitment and a key opportunity at this NATO summit passing, the Afghan population should be deeply disappointed in their leaders.

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