NEWS & ANALYSIS: Talking to the Taliban; Karzai loses friends; Al Qaeda’s coalition plans to take over Pakistan

Taleban ‘needed for Afghan peace’

The Taleban “will need to be involved” at some stage with a peace process in Afghanistan, UK Defence Secretary Des Browne has said.

At a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference, he said a solution would have to be “Islamic based”.

Mr Browne said Taleban involvement would happen “because they are not going away” any more than Hamas was from the Palestinian territories. [complete article]

In Afghanistan, anger in parliament grows as Karzai defies majority’s wishes

In May, the lower house of the Afghan Parliament voted overwhelmingly to oust the country’s foreign minister on the grounds of incompetence. In a different time and place, the matter might have been over as quickly as it began.

But this is Afghanistan, still in the tense, halting infancy of a new democratic era. And more than four months after the vote, much to the anger of the parliamentary majority, the minister remains in his post, protected by the man who appointed him: President Hamid Karzai.

Mr. Karzai said the vote was illegal and motivated simply by politics. The legislators have accused the president of snubbing the Constitution and undermining the democratic foundations of the republic.

The dispute is the most serious manifestation of the long-simmering tension between the Karzai administration and the warlords and former mujahedeen in the legislature, who want more control over policy making. It threatens to bring Parliament to a halt and pitch Afghanistan into a political crisis. [complete article]

Military brains plot Pakistan’s downfall

The Saudis are concerned that should their erstwhile son bin Laden succeed in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia would be one of the next logical targets. So a joint strategy was devised to confront the threat.

According to a witness who spoke to Asia Times Online, last month a Saudi consul visited North Waziristan in the first such interaction with the al-Qaeda command since the US invasion on Afghanistan in 2001. The consul was meant to meet Zawahiri or bin Laden, but he was not allowed to see them and instead met second-tier al-Qaeda leaders. [complete article]

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