No matter what the Chinese may say about 2012 being the year of the dragon, this is going to be the year of the Taliban so far as the United States is concerned.
The New Year began with an exciting media "leak" by senior United States officials in Washington that the Barack Obama administration was considering the transfer to Afghan custody of a senior Taliban official, Mullah Mohammed Fazl, who has been detained at the US facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for the past nine years.
The officials claimed Fazl might be released (or transferred to Qatar) in response to a longstanding request by Kabul as a "confidence-building measure" intended to underscore to the Taliban the US's seriousness in engaging them.
To be sure, the Obama administration is raring to go. Just about four months are left for the summit meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Chicago, an event showcasing Obama's leadership of the Western alliance - and that he can lead from the front - embedded within his unpredictable re-election bid. The summit is expected to focus world attention on the Afghan situation. Read More