Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

from Tales from the Trail:

AfPak — It’s his baby now

ruggiero

On a day when the most powerful people in Washington were discussing Afghanistan and Pakistan, there was one man who might be excused for looking a little shell-shocked.

Frank Ruggiero, who stepped in as acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) following the sudden death of his boss Richard Holbrooke on Monday, had little time to prepare for his first big outing as President Barack Obama's  pointman for the biggest foreign policy headache facing the administration.

Ruggiero spoke to the press after Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates formally unveiled  their official review of the year-old Afghan strategy, which said enough progress was being made to begin withdrawing U.S. troops in July despite fragile and uneven gains against the Taliban insurgents.

Clinton -- accompanied by virtually Holbrooke's entire office -- joined Ruggiero at the press conference in an orchestrated display of continuity and solidarity.

WikiLeaks : Talks with the Taliban a non-starter

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AFGHANISTAN/

Afghan President Hamid Karzai may be pushing for talks with the Taliban in public as the only way to end the nine-year war, but in private he is as determined as the United States in opposing any place for top Taliban leaders  in a future government , the latest set of WikiLeaks documents show.  Those repeated calls for talks  are more aimed at sowing dissensions in the insurgent group than  any serious attempt for a negotiated settlement of the war. Indeed as The Guardian reports on the leaked comments on its website, so far as Karzai and the Obama administration are concerned, the only option open to the Taliban is surrender.

Which pretty much is a deal-maker, given that the Taliban having fought the world’s most advanced military formation to a virtual stalemate, have shown few signs of a compromise, much less  surrender.

from Tales from the Trail:

Holbrooke: No “dysfunction” on U.S. Afghan Team

 Barack Obama's team running the Afghan war has its issues -- but is it dysfunctional? No, sir, according to Richard Holbrooke.

" I have worked in every Democratic administration since the Kennedy administration, and I know dysfunctionality when I see it," Holbrooke, the administration's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the PBS NewsHour program.

from Tales from the Trail:

Holbrooke hits the airwaves in new push

When President Barack Obama snuck into Afghanistan unannounced last month, a notable omission on Air Force One was his special representative for the region, veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke. OBAMA-AFGHANISTAN

Leaving out the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan on Obama's very first trip to Kabul as president raised a few eyebrows.

from Tales from the Trail:

Is Holbrooke’s “bulldozer” style working?

Dubbed the "bulldozer" for his tough guy tactics in Balkan negotiations, U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke has been making waves in South Asia recently.

holbrookeU.S. embassies in New Delhi and Kabul have been scrambling over the past week to deal with local fallout from statements made by Washington's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

from Tales from the Trail:

Holbrooke: my relationship with Karzai is good, really

Absolutely they are on good terms...

Richard Holbrooke, special U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, once again declared his respect for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. AFGHANISTAN/

In fact, he feels so strongly about reports that the two don't get along he wrote a letter to The Washington Post.

from Tales from the Trail:

Protest resignation over Afghan plans puts Obama team on edge

On Monday, the State Department sent out its no. 2 official to tout how it was managing to get U.S. civilians out into the field in Afghanistan, with nearly 1,000 expected to be in place by year-end.

A day later, it was in damage control mode after the resignation of one of its star employees was plastered on the front page of The Washington Post and on the Internet.

from Tales from the Trail:

Holbrooke jokes about Kerry’s Karzai eclipse

Power plays are always a tricky business in Washington and sometimes it's better to make a joke out of it. Or not.

Special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, used that tactic on Friday when asked about reports that veteran Senator John Kerry is stealing his limelight.

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