Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. Learn how the war in Afghanistan undermines U.S. security: watch Rethink Afghanistan (Part Six), & visit the blog.
Talks between Hamid Karzai and Abdullah broke down today, October 30, according to CNN, meaning there will be no power-sharing arrangement to head off a highly problematic runoff vote.
That would be bad enough in itself, since the administration recognized the difficulties posed by getting a legitimate poll done before winter sets in and had hoped a power-sharing deal would provide legitimacy while dodging the dicey balloting. But, things actually get much worse:
According to the source, Abdullah will likely announce this weekend that he will boycott the runoff presidential election slated for November 7, a runoff that had been scheduled after intense diplomatic arm twisting by the United States. [emphasis mine]
One hopes a CNN reporter simply failed to choose his/her words carefully and meant instead "drop out of" the race, because if Abdullah is going so far as to boycott the race, Afghanistan could become a much more dangerous place than it is already. Recall that earlier this year, Abdullah supporters were promising protests "with Kalashnakovs" if he simply lost in a fair vote, and, as if to prove their point, reports indicated a frightening flow of weapons toward Abdullah's political base. Now we're potentially talking about him urging people not to participate and declaring the entire runoff process illegitimate.
This has already been a terrible week for the U.S. as President Obama wraps up his sixth review of Afghanistan policy with a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 30. Earlier this week, IED attacks pushed the U.S. death toll to its highest monthly level since the U.S. invasion. Yesterday, we learned that Hamid Karzai's drug-trafficking, electioneering mafioso of a brother was on the CIA payroll. If the CNN report is accurate, things may get much worse.