Washington Post columnist Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, arrived in Afghanistan over the weekend to take on the project of reviving a government struggling with corruption, growing restiveness in provinces, and a new sense of rebellion across the country.
According to one of the more interesting, though unconfirmed, sources, Khalilzad is scheduled to reach out to several key power players to help foster new optimism toward Afghanistan’s future and fight the perception that President Obama has failed there.
His arrival comes as prominent senators in the U.S. and Afghanistan are also at odds with Obama’s and U.S. strategy there. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Biden (D-Del.) are both imploring Obama to reconsider his strategy on Afghanistan, while his own Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, has also urged the president to adopt a more “realistic” approach.
While no official information is available, the Post quotes Khalilzad’s visit by both the administration and the Council on Foreign Relations, the bipartisan, think tank founded by former CIA Director James Woolsey.
Paired with the stark differences among Afghan leaders, Khalilzad’s visit could potentially offer some solace to both Obama and Hagel. But the question now is, how will Khalilzad, the person who will serve as the president’s “link” to Afghanistan, bridge the chasm between the two government factions?