What lends urgency to [Admiral William] Fallon’s mission to Tashkent is the criticality of the Afghan situation. Much thinking has gone into Fallon’s mission and it was preceded by months of mediation by the European Union between Washington and Tashkent. Karimov took time to relent. Yet, ironically, the fragility of the overall situation in Afghanistan is such that the thaw in US-Uzbek relations was overtaken within 24 hours of Fallon’s mission by dramatic developments in Kabul.
In a series of statements over the weekend, President Hamid Karzai’s government rubbished a major decision taken by Washington and London on the appointment of Lord Paddy Ashdown as the United Nations’ super envoy in Kabul.
Kabul knew for months about the impending appointment of Ashdown as a key step in a new NATO strategy spearheaded by the US and Britain, aimed at stabilizing the Afghan situation. Karzai knew detailed planning had gone into the move involving NATO, the EU and the United Nations Security Council. But Karzai waited patiently until the eleventh hour before shooting it down publicly on Saturday in a interview with the BBC while attending the World Economic Forum meet in the Swiss resort town of Davos. The move was pre-planned and carried out in a typical Afghan way with maximum effect. [complete article]