Talking to the Haqqanis
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is rapidly making her way through all the world’s hotspots. She said yesterday in an interview that Washington isn’t “shutting the door” to the potential inclusion of the Haqqani network in future reconciliation agreements with the Afghan government. “It's too soon to tell whether any of these groups or any individuals within them are serious,” she added. Clinton did however remind her interviewers that Haqqani militants are still trying to “kill as many Americans, Afghans and coalition members as they can,” and likewise, Washington is trying to kill and capture them. Over the weekend, Afghan president Hamid Karzai said that he was done engaging with insurgents and that reconciliation efforts were futile. Clinton though said that the Afghan government will continue reaching out to the Taliban.
Also yesterday, news broke about a thwarted Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States. Clinton called the foiling a “terrific achievement by our law enforcement and intelligence communities” and said Washington would be working with the international community to “further isolate” Tehran and make sure it gets the message that this plot was not the best course of action. Saudi Arabia meanwhile put it bluntly: “Somebody in Iran will have to pay the price.”
Clinton is also joining the budget-warning bandwagon. And she’s taking the fight to Congress, attempting to educate the Hill about the State Department and USAID in the hopes of shoring up funding. Congress looks set to cut the budget deeply without reeling in its expectations, says Clinton: “Well, they wanted us to keep doing what we were expected to do in Iraq, doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and, oh by the way, what you're trying to do in Yemen, what you're trying to do in Somalia, what you're trying to do in Sudan.” She followed with, “But we don't want to give you as much money, so you just keeping doing that.” In particular, Clinton is asking lawmakers to keep foreign aid off the chopping block.
Meanwhile, the Middle East Quartet, whose envoys sat down together on Sunday, want the Israelis and Palestinians to restart talks on October 23 in Jordan. “We are very hopeful that both parties will take up that offer,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. Clinton reiterated yesterday that negotiations are the only way to a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians “are not going to get a state through the U.N. It's not going to happen,” she said.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner issued a warning about the recession on Tuesday. There has been resistance to President Obama’s jobs bill within the Republican camp, and Geithner seemed to get fed up with the situation. He didn’t mince words and went right for the partisan jugular: “If Congress does not act, it will be because Republicans decided they did not want to do anything to help the economy.”
And Attorney General Eric Holder should be expecting a subpoena soon. A congressional panel investigating Holder’s testimony on the Fast and Furious operation wants to question him.