Peter Galbraith used to be the number two United Nations
representative in Afghanistan until September, when he left the post
suddenly and without explanation. Last week, the New York Times reported
that Galbraith was dismissed after he suggested that Afghan President
Hamid Karzai should be ousted from office over widespread accusations
of corruption. Galbraith had also been criticized for his controversial
financial stake in an oil field in the Kurdish region of Iraq, seen by
some as a conflict of interest. Now Galbraith is defending himself, and
he comes out swinging. Here's what Galbraith is saying and what
analysts think may be behind all this.
- Karzai Accusation Unture Galbraith defends in Sphere, alleging a conspiracy by the UN. "U.N.
officials made the same charges in a news conference in October
for the same reason that they have trotted them out again: to draw
attention away from the U.N.'s mishandling of fraud in the Afghanistan
elections," he writes, recounting the UN's handling of Karzai's
reelection, which was widely seen as rife with fraud. Galbraith says he
worked hard to reform the international body responsible for overseeing
the election and to prevent the fraud he was convinced was coming. He
was rebuffed and, he says, dismissed over the disagreement. "Since
then, the U.N. has been scrambling to come up with an alternative
explanation for my firing."
- My Long History In Kurdistan Galbraith defends himself in the New York Review of Books. "After
being an eyewitness to Saddam Hussein's genocide against the
Kurds in the 1980s, I came to the view that the Iraqi Kurdish
aspiration for independence was morally justified and the only sure
means of protecting the Kurdish people. In late 2003 and early 2004, I
helped Kurdistan's leaders draft a proposal for a self-governing
Kurdistan that was submitted to the Coalition Provisional Authority on
February 11, 2004, for inclusion in Iraq's interim constitution." He
explains that he helped Kurd leaders to establish oil independence and
infrastructure, but denies that he forced through or had stake in the
oil. "As even a superficial analysis would show, the allegation could
possibly be true. I was a private citizen, unconnected to any
government and with no power to push through anything. I was not
directly involved in any negotiations and was not in the room when they
took place. I simply provided advice, unpaid and on an informal basis,
to the Kurdish leaders."
- Galbraith And Internal UN Feuding Politico's Laura Rozen points out
Galbraith left "after feuding with his Norwegian boss Kai Eide over how
to deal with
fraud in Afghanistan's August presidential elections. Last week, the UN
announced that Eide would be leaving the mission next year too." She
writes, "And no doubt, much of this is score settling in the
feud, now that Eide is being pushed out too. Surprising perhaps given
that the two men weren't strangers or enemies when they took the top UN
jobs in Afghanistan; Eide had introduced Galbraith to his Norwegian
- Galbraith Was Good At His Job Spencer Ackerman defends him.
"Even if Peter Galbraith personally siphoned a jillion barrels of
Kurdish oil and sold them himself on the open market, the dude still
displayed significant insight into those structural defects and their relationship to the international community."
- Galbraith Embodies Our Foreign Affairs Bumbles Foreign Policy's Peter Feaver explains why Galbraith shows "Our AfPak problem and the difficulty of playing well with others. "Galbraith is an
interesting figure; he was the original author of what became known as the
Biden Plan to divide Iraq into 3-parts." He writes of the Karzai allegations, "The Bush team, belying
the cowboy image, believed that we got better results when we pressured
beleaguered allies like Karzai or Musharraf in private and offered assurances
in public. The Obama team believes that they will get better results if they
pressure in private and in public. [...] It is very hard, however, to do that kind of public pressuring without
antagonizing the government you are trying to cajole."
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