Afghan President Hamid Karzai's relationship with the U.S. and UN has
chilled in recent days, following a series of diplomatic incidents that widened a rift between Karzai and the international forces in Afghanistan. It began when Karzai accused
an independent, UN-designated watchdog of conducting electoral fraud and
undermining his leadership. President Obama rescinded
Karzai's invitation to visit
Washington. Karzai responded by inviting Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad to give a "fiery anti-American" speech in Kabul. Is the
back-and-forth just a diplomatic squabble or a sign of a changing
relationship? What's behind the shift?
- Officials: It's Getting
Bad The New York Times' Dexter Filkins
and Mark Landler report, "Karzai is putting distance between
himself and his American sponsors, prominent Afghans and American
officials here said. Even as Mr. Obama pours tens of thousands of
additional American troops into the country to help defend Mr. Karzai’s
government, Mr. Karzai now often voices the view that his interests and
the United States’ no longer coincide."
- U.S. Trying to Oust
Karzai's Brother Well that could help explain things. Spencer Ackerman notes
that, in the ongoing run-up to the U.S.-led assault on Kandahar, U.S.
officials are insisting that Karzai's influential brother, Ahmed Wali
Karzai, leave the province. "It would be surprising if Ahmed Wali Karzai
leaves Kandahar after being threatened, or if Hamid Karzai, already
embittered by what he considers unreasonable U.S. demands on his
performance, sacrificed his brother to a U.S. political/military
- Karzai Undermines Entire Mission The New York
Times' Thomas Friedman frets.
"When you can steal an election, you can steal anything. How will we get
this guy to curb corruption when his whole election, and previous tour
in office, were built on corruption? How can we be operating a clear,
build-and-hold strategy that depends on us bringing good governance to
Afghans when the head of the government is so duplicitous?"
We Shouldn't Worry The American Prospect's Adam Serwer shrugs.
"Ultimately the U.S. goal in Afghanistan is to leave behind a stable
Afghan government. If distancing himself from the U.S. publicly allows
Karzai to gain more popular support and legitimacy for his government,
then it's in the U.S. interest for him to do that, regardless of whether
it hurts our feelings."
- Karzai Wants Electoral Control Spencer Ackerman explains
Karzai's attacks against the U.N.'s control over the electoral panel.
"Karzai is trying to convince parliament to respect an edict he issued
in February that reserved himself the right to appoint the members of
an independent election fraud watchdog, the Electoral Complaints
Commission, that presently has the majority of its membership appointed
by the United Nations. Parliament’s lower house has already rejected the
move, but Karzai is trying to convince the upper house to support him."
Official Hits Back Former U.N. representative to Afghanistan Peter Galbraith, who Karzai named in his attack on the
U.N., fumes, "I sometimes wonder if Karzai is a little too enthusiastic
Afghanistan’s most popular export," he said, referencing Afghanistan's
opium field. "When I first heard the news this morning I thought that
Karzai is pulling an April Fool’s joke, but then I reflected and
realized we don’t have that kind of warm and fuzzy relationship.
Needless to say, the U.N. fired me for wanting to do something about the
[election] fraud, so it’s a big lie that I was the one who committed
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