Two weeks ago, Afghan President Hamid Karzai was quick to withdraw from peace talks with the Taliban, insisting their decision to fly an old (pre-occupation) Afghan flag was a grave insult that could never be excused.
Growing indications are that this was a mere pretext, however, and that Karzai was concerned that the Afghan-US-Taliban peace talks would quickly sideline his government.
That’s why Karzai cancelled not just the Taliban talks, but the ongoing US-Afghan talks on prolonging the occupation, which has Congress concerned that US troops won’t have legal cover to stay in Afghanistan from 2015 onward.
Karzai’s reign has less than a year remaining, and while he has limited power to influence the Taliban talks, he can use the US troop talks as leverage to keep himself engaged, at least through the end of his term.
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