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Zalmay Khalilzad to Rule Afghanistan Behind the Scenes?

In one of the most rococo arrangements between patron and client-state imaginable, Afghan President Hamid Karzai might hire Zalmay Khalilzad — who was an extremely powerful U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005 — to be something like a chief executive officer. Khalilzad, who was born in Mazar-e-Sharif, had been rumored to consider a run for the presidency, which was odd enough, but this is out-and-out crazy.

Helene Cooper reports for The New York Times:

The position would allow Mr. Khalilzad to serve as “a prime minister, except not prime minister because he wouldn’t be responsible to a parliamentary system,” a senior Obama administration official said. Taking the unelected position would also allow Mr. Khalilzad to keep his American citizenship.

Administration officials tell Cooper that they’re not necessarily behind the idea, which is encouraging if true, because having a former American official run the Karzai government behind the scenes is absolutely insane. A scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies remarks, “This has the makings of a really bad movie.” And an exceptionally bad one! Karzai will be effectively saying his most important priority is to repair his breach with the United States without regard for appearing like an American stooge. Why not just give the Taliban a radio station and tell them to have fun broadcasting the prospective Khalilzad appointment?

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