WASHINGTON, Nov 11: The Obama administration may engage Iran and the ‘reconcilable’ elements within the Taliban movement to seek a peaceful end to the war in Afghanistan, the US media reported on Tuesday.
The Washington Post said in a report that Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen had directed his commanders in Afghanistan to redraw the map of the Afghan battle space.
The new map includes Pakistan’s tribal regions and US military and intelligence leaders had delivered forceful messages to Pakistani officials on the need to step up attacks against Taliban and Al Qaeda sanctuaries in their territory, the report added.
President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, however, had not yet plotted its diplomatic approach to Pakistan, where US intelligence officials claim Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is hiding, the report said.
The Post noted that the proposals put forth by Mr Obama’s national security advisers sought to reverse the policies of the Bush administration.
The advisers advocate dropping ideological barriers to talking to Iran about Afghanistan, which neither country wants to see controlled by the Taliban extremists.
And in an idea advocated by many of America’s Nato allies, Mr Obama’s military aides also look favourably on opening a dialogue with “reconcilable” elements of the Taliban.
The Post, however, noted that the pursuit for a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict would not prevent the Obama administration from strengthening America’s military presence in Afghanistan.
The newspaper said Mr Obama’s Afghanistan approach would mark a sharp contrast to the Bush administration by dropping its “unrealistic commitment” of building a modern democracy around Afghan President Hamid Karzai and focus instead on maintaining stability.
The Post noted that as Mr Obama began to formulate his Afghan war policy, some senior military strategists were questioning the US commitment to President Karzai, “who is expected to run for re-election next year but is widely considered weak and ineffective.”
Some European and Nato officials have suggested holding a grand jirga to select the country’s next leader instead of supporting Mr Karzai’s second bid for power but the US State Department has rejected the idea.
The Post quoted Mr Obama’s top national security advisers as saying that the new administration would renew US focus on hunting Osama bin Laden.
The president-elect believes that after years of failing to apprehend the Al Qaeda leader, Mr Bush is playing down the importance of catching America’s most wanted fugitive.
The Post reported that the emerging broad strokes of Mr Obama’s approach would be welcomed by senior US military officers who advocate a more aggressive and creative course for the deteriorating conflict in Afghanistan. America’s Nato allies would also welcome this approach and be more willing to put their troops under Mr Obama’s command, the report added.