In 1999, prominent Afghan politician
Abdul Ahad Karzai was gunned down by Taliban assassins for criticizing
their regime. His son Hamid Karzai, a moderate and well-liked
politician, lobbied Western governments for help in ousting the Taliban,
which he got in a late 2001 international assault. Now President of
Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai may be having a little change of heart. Afghan
legislators told the Associated Press
that, at a closed-door meeting this weekend, Karzai threatened to quit
the presidency and join the Taliban. This is probably unlikely for a
number of reasons (for example, Karzai and Taliban leaders have been
trying to kill each other for a decade), but it threatens to exacerbate
the growing diplomatic tension
between Karzai and the U.S. Here's what people are saying.
- Hyperbole, but Damaging The A.P.'s Amir Shah writes, "Lawmakers
dismissed the latest comment as hyperbole, but it will add to the
impression the president — who relies on tens of thousands of U.S. and
NATO forces to fight the insurgency and prop up his government — is
growing increasingly erratic and unable to exert authority without
attacking his foreign backers."
- He's Planning Post-U.S. Rule
Time's Tony Karon suggests, "Karzai,
moreover, is humiliated and shown to be powerless when his
protestations over such operations are ignored by his Western patrons.
So while he may have been installed by a U.S.-led invasion, if Karzai is
to survive the departure of Western forces, he will have to reinvent
himself as a national leader with an independent power base."
Have to Live With Him Commentary's Max Boot sighs, "Bottom line: we
don’t have any choice but to work with Karzai."
- Crazy Like a
Fox? The Australian's William Daley speculates,
"given his weak position both domestically and internationally, it is
possible that his objectives are to reduce his dependence on the US by
cutting a deal with the Pakistan-backed Taliban and Hekmatyar's Hezb,
and moving closer to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. On the other
hand, he may be seeking to reduce his local vulnerability by trying to
geld the parliament and establish an autocratic system of rule."
troubles with his allies all boil down to his sense that he and his
government are not sovereign in Afghanistan. They appear to exercise
little control or influence over tactical military operations.
Complaints about the heavy use of firepower against civilians—usually
voiced after a bombing raid has struck a funeral or wedding party with
great loss of innocent life—seem to go unacknowledged. Military mistakes
covered up with an aggressive official disinformation campaign. The
United States is operating
a prison system in Afghanistan with no obvious connection to
Afghanistan’s law or courts.
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