Afghanistan headed for four-way war?

Five months after Afghanistan's September presidential elections, a winner has finally been declared—the incumbent, Ashraf Ghani. But hours after the announcement, rival Abdullah Abdullah declared himself the victor, claiming irregularities in the vote and calling the results "national treason." Abdullah, who still serves as chief executive (a separate post from president) has issued a decree barring all election commission workers from leaving the country. The showdown portends a divided government just as US is attempting to broker a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, ostensibly to be followed by "intra-Afghan talks" between the Taliban and the government in Kabul. (The Guardian, Al Jazeera, CNN)

In addition to the ongoing war with the Taliban, NATO-backed government forces are continuing to battle the Islamic State's "Khorasan Province" in Afghanistan. Following a long offensive, President Ghani in November triumphantly declared that ISIS had been "obliterated." However, air-strikes continue against the group in its remaining stronghold in the Spin Ghar mountains of eastern Kunar province. (Khaama Press, WaPo)

Taliban on NY Times op-ed page

Well, this is pretty surreal. Sirajuddin Haqqani, named as "deputy leader of the Taliban," has an op-ed in the New York Times, playing to pro-peace sentiment, and attempting to mollify the skeptical with a sickening reference to protecting "the rights of women that are granted by Islam." Predictably, and depressingly, it is only the political right in the US that is expressing any outrage over the Times opening its op-ed page to this propaganda. 

This appears to indicate that in the leadership shake-ups of recent years, the formerly Pakistan-based Haqqani Network has taken over the Afghan Taliban.  Sirajuddin Haqqani was apparently the target of a US drone strike as recently as 2010 (as well as previously), but we must ask if he is the same person as the "Siraj Haqqani" named in media reports the following year as being offered a role in the Afghan government in return for peace by US diplomats...