Despite the harrowing threats to potential voters coming from Taliban quarters recently, The Guardian reported yesterday that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has brokered a deal with militants to ensure that voters will be able to go to the polls in next week's election. Still, it's unlikely that international election monitors will be able to go into those areas, meaning they're ripe opportunities for election fraud. Katherine Tiedemann also warned yesterday over twitter that there was no guarantee the deal would apply to those areas in which Karzai's opponents might draw support.

Tiedemann also points to a recent poll that shows Karzai with a solid lead (44%) over his main opponents, ophthalmologist and former adviser to the late mujahedin commander Ahmed Shah Massoud Abdullah Abdullah (26%) and former Finance Minister and World Bank adviser Ashraf Ghani (6%). The thing is, if Karzai fails to get 51% of the vote there will be a runoff, at which point things might get more competitive--and possibly dangerous. 

A small, but interesting detail about Ghani--he's hired James Carville as a political adviser.

-- A. Serwer

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