Haven't heard of the Hezb-e-Islami? That's because, until now, they've been playing second fiddle to the Taliban in militant resistance to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Western media bandwidth for foreign names doesn't allow for more than one or two to pass through. But as of this week they became major players in peace talks lead by Afghan President Karzai aimed at bringing former insurgents into the fold.
Their demands are simple on the surface: get foreign forces out quickly (by this summer to be precise), and rewrite the constiution to reflect actual domestic balances of power based on tribal relations more than federalism in the Euro-American sense. President Karzai isn't the only one listening closely to insurgents either. United Nations special envoy Kai Eide has just reported that peace talks with the Taliban have been ongoing for a year.
What's the problem? None, except that President Obama still have some 70,000 troops on the way in one of the greatest migrations in military history. In fact, of the several news reports of the peace talks with now-legitimized Afghan insurgents (which never happened to their less fortunate Iraqi counterparts), none mentioned any U.S. involvement in them. Not one.
The peace talks in Kabul with President Karzai included a five-member Hezb-e-Islami delegation headed by a former Afghan prime minister, Qutbuddin Helal, who is deputy to Mr Hekmatyar - himself another former prime minister. Three Afghan prime ministers and no U.S. President makes for a lopsided discussion the consequences of which-- however peaceful-- will be seriously curtailed as a result.
"I welcome this effort. I hope that this kind of negotiations continues and that we will witness a delegation from the Taliban coming to start negotiations," said one insurgency leader. The Obama administration, and particularly its NATO wingers, seem totally oblivious to this major change of conditions on the ground. It began earlier this year when President Karzai announced he would talk directly with the Taliban, then the U.K. following his lead, and now this.
The obliviousness of the Obama administration to peacemaking efforts in Afghanistan is a dangerous current event making the world look forward to a future in which the American military plays a much smaller, and disappearing, role.