In the Arena

Today in Afghanistan

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Dexter Filkins locates the most brazen vote theft so far.

And Pamela Constable raises the possibility of unrest as the evidence of massive fraud mounts. There’s also this:

American officials have expressed rare public dismay at Karzai’s electoral courtship of controversial former warlords. Karzai’s aides, in turn, portrayed his recent meeting with the U.S. special envoy to the region, Richard C. Holbrooke, as an imperious political lecture from Washington. If Karzai remains in power, it is unclear whether he will seek to mend fences with Washington or continue his populist demonizing of the West.

You wonder if the situation is slipping back to where it was when we found it–a contest between the Northern Alliance (Abdullah’s supporters) and the Taliban, with Karzai attempting to reconstruct a Pashtun united front. It’s hard to imagine that Karzai would go so far–my guess is, he’s just trying to threaten us with the possibility–and I’d also guess that Kabul is too small a place for an alliance between Karzai and Mullah Omar. (Karzai would soon find himself defenestrated.)

But this is becoming a real mess.