A few weeks ago, US Special Forces in Afghanistan got a tip and descended on a convoy en route to Kabul. In one car: senior Pakistan Taliban militant Latif Mehsud. The US confirmed his capture more than two weeks ago, but it's the basis of a meaty New York Times report that today reveals Afghanistan has been trying to forge a "shadowy alliance" with members of the Pakistani Taliban with the aim of teaming up against Pakistan's military. (Mehsud had been on his way to secret government talks.) The ultimate plan, according to Afghan officials, was to come to eventual negotiations with Pakistan, which has "long had the upper hand," with a bargaining chip—an offer to rescind its support of these militants.
Afghanistan had started to make real progress regarding the alliance, and Afghan officials say they're revealing these details because Mehsud is useless to them now, and because with their alliance thwarted, they can at least try to intimidate Pakistan by revealing how far they were willing to go. Still, Afghanistan remains furious at what the Times describes as an "egregious example of American bullying," so much so that some officials say it could throw a wrench into the progress John Kerry has made with Hamid Karzai regarding a post-2014 presence. But the news is a blow for the US, too. Writes Matthew Rosenberg:
- "It has exposed a new level of futility in the war effort here. Not only has Washington failed to persuade Pakistan to stop using militants to destabilize its neighbors—a major American foreign policy goal in recent years—but its failure also appears to have persuaded Afghanistan to try the same thing."
Rosenberg goes on to point out that the Pakistani Taliban's loose association with the Afghan Taliban makes the news more troubling still. Read the full piece here