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The Man Who Is Almost King

The New York Times reports today that former United Nations ambassador and American ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is considering taking a "key role" in the Afghan government:

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.

Early last year, I reported that Khalilzad was considering an actual run for the presidency of Afghanistan. At the time, Khalilzad studiously avoided any abject denial that he would compete for the job, while waving off such speculation as silly gossip. Though the position he may assume would technically have him answering to Afghan president Hamid Karzai, it certainly does make the possibility of a presidential run sometime down the line more likely. 

--James Kirchick