Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Karzai faces a wave of Western criticism

  Three quarters of aid to Afghanistan between 2002 and 2006, a figure corresponding to about USD 11 billion, was spent directly by donors without proper coordination with the Afghan government.

"'Incompetent' Hamid Karzai's political future in doubt," The Times, January 30, 2009.
US officials have been particularly angered by persistent allegations that Mr Karzai's half-brother is involved in the drug trade, and by the President's repeated criticism of US raids that cause civilian casualties, the sources said. One US official said that Afghanistan was becoming “a narco-state”, providing 90 per cent of the world's illegal opium, while Mr Karzai appeared unable to govern outside Kabul or provide services to his citizens....

Speculation about Mr Karzai's political demise mounted last week when it was reported that an unofficial delegation of four potential candidates for the Afghan presidency had visited Washington.

The delegation reportedly consisted of Dr Abdullah Abdullah, a former Foreign Minister; Dr Ashraf Ghani, a former Finance Minister; Ali Ahmad Jalali, a former Interior Minister; and Gul Agha Sherzai, Governor of the eastern province of Nangahar. The four men have neither confirmed nor denied the meeting.

"Karzai sucking up to the Russians," The Newshoggers, January 30, 2009.
Afghanistan and Russia are now engaged in what appear to be cordial and mutually beneficial negotiations to improve Afghanistan's defense, at the same time shoring up Karzai's increasingly shaky position and providing a counterweight to the United States' domination of the region.

"Challenge to Karzai's right to rule after poll date is delayed," The Independent, January 30, 2009.
The palace insists Mr Karzai can rule on. Article 61 of the constitution states: "The presidential term shall expire on 1st of Jawza [22 May] of the fifth year after elections." But election officials insisted last night that the document was flawed and impossible to follow.

Critics of the government claimed the IEC, which has been accused of covering up widespread voter registration fraud, should be "renamed the Karzai Re-election Commission". One analyst said: "If this doesn't precipitate a crisis, at the least it will serve to prolong the President's term in office, which could further his chances of re-election."

Hussain Sancharaki, the main opposition spokesman, said: "After the 1st of Jawza the Karzai government will have no legitimacy."

"Will Obama support Karzai's re-election in Afghanistan?" McClatchy Newspapers, January 30, 2009.
U.S. and European officials say they've grown frustrated by Karzai's failure to curb corruption, cronyism and incompetence, and they say he's refused to crack down on powerful officials, allegedly including one of his brothers, who are involved in the world's largest opium trade.

Karzai has grown increasingly angry at the mounting civilian casualties in U.S.-led military operations and has long complained that Washington has failed to push Pakistan to halt secret support for the Taliban . He said that his policies have been undermined by warlords the U.S. paid to keep order while U.S. troops were diverted to Iraq .

"Why Karzai is worried," The Spectator, January 31, 2009.
The appointment of the hard-charging Richard Holbrooke as Afghan envoy has not been universally welcomed. One person who is particularly concerned about it is Hamid Karzai, the current Afghan president, who will probably win re-election later this year. Their first, secret meeting was apparently quite frosty.

"Afghan Leader Plays Public Blame Game With West," NPR, February 1, 2009.
Lawmaker Ahmad Behzad, who serves on the international relations committee in the Afghan parliament, ... says if Americans can elect an African-American like Obama to be president, then they ought to engage Afghans of all ethnic backgrounds to move the country forward.

"Afghanistan hits back at Western critics over aid," Reuters, February 1, 2009.
Another dark reality of how taxpayers' donations are spent is that many nations, especially the United States, direct reconstruction work through sub-contracts that utilize international expertise or western consultants - a means to channel the money back to the donor nation. [Known as "tied" aid. About 50% of Canada's aid is "tied." -jlt]

"Defence chief attacks ‘weak’ Afghan leader," The Sunday Times, UK, February 1, 2009.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, chief of defence staff, saya “This mission is, essentially, all about governance and there is no doubt that there is a lack of capacity within Afghanistan.”

"Pakistan, mother of all problems for the US," South China Morning Post, January 30, 2009.

[But the war in Afghanistan is not separate from Pakistan where a number of players accused of corruption are faced with a serious threat to their sovereignty in the form of US assaults on Pakistani territory by Predator drones. The South China Post article articulates a version of the American line on Pakistan. -jlt]

Recommend this Post

Sphere: Related Content