Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Prelude to Taliban talks?

Or a show of support against them? Prime Minister Steve made an Unannounced Visit to Afghanistan today, where he's giving the military mission some badly-needed humanitarian spin:

"KABUL, Afghanistan (CP) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has responded to criticism of his government's handling of the mission in Afghanistan by making an unannounced visit to the war-ravaged country.

The surprise two-day trip comes after weeks of opposition attacks on his government's handling of the Afghan detainee controversy.

At a joint news conference with Harper in Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai denied detainees handed from Canadian to Afghan custody had been tortured and personally vowed that such abuses wouldn't take place on his watch."

(I'd like to know how Karzai can guarantee that no detainee abuses will take place on his watch, unless he plans on personally supervising the detainees himself.) Harper said that the Afghanistan mission would not be completed "through military means alone" -- possible diplomacy? But Karzai spoke of "terrorists striking again" if NATO troops were to leave Afghanistan, and he's no doubt referring to the Taliban.

The Afghan Senate recently called for direct talks with the Taliban, and have expressed discontent with the Karzai government. Karzai might be rallying NATO allies in a show of force, to help him fend off a potential ouster -- with good reason. I mean, look what the Afghan parliament did to someone who called it "a zoo".