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Afghan Pres. Karzai threatens to "join the Taliban"


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Afghan Pres. Karzai reportedly threatens to "join the Taliban" because of "too much interference/pressure" from the international community/Western governments.

Associated Press link

KABUL – President Hamid Karzai's startling threat to join the Taliban if foreigners don't stop meddling in Afghanistan and his strident criticism of the West's role have worsened relations with Washington at a time when the U.S. military wants closer cooperation ahead of a potentially decisive offensive this summer.

Karzai has been fuming for months about what he considers Washington's heavy hand.
He's gambling that blaming outsiders for the troubles in a society with a long tradition of resisting occupation will bolster his stature at home — while carrying little risk because the U.S. has no choice but to deal with him.

But managing the rift has now become a major problem for both sides, threatening even to rival the threat from the Taliban. President Barack Obama's strategy depends on working with a strong, reliable Afghan partner to turn back a resurgent Taliban, raising the question of what will happen if that partnership fails.

Karzai's comments suggest that his understanding of partnership differs from Obama's considerably. On certain issues, Karzai clearly wants Washington to back off.

"Troubling" is how White House spokesman Robert Gibbs described reports Monday that Karzai threatened to abandon the political process and join the Taliban insurgency if the West keeps carping at him to reform his government.

"On behalf of the American people, we're frustrated with the remarks," Gibbs told reporters.

"These comments can undercut the kind of support that we think we need on all sides of this equation if we're going to move forward," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. "Clearly, you know, what he says does have an impact back here in the United States and he should choose his words carefully."

Karzai has long chaffed under what he considers excessive international pressure. Those complaints escalated Thursday when he lashed out against the U.N. and the international community, accusing them of perpetrating a "vast fraud" in last year's presidential polls as part of a conspiracy to deny him re-election or tarnish his victory — accusations the U.S. and the United Nations have denied.

Two days later, Karzai told a group of parliament members that if foreign interference in his government continues, the Taliban would become a legitimate resistance — one that he might even join, according to several lawmakers present.

"He said that 'if I come under foreign pressure, I might join the Taliban,'" said Farooq Marenai, who represents the eastern province of Nangarhar. "He said rebellion" against a legitimate Afghan government "would change to resistance" against foreign occupation.

Two other parliament members gave the same account but asked that their names not be published to avoid problems with Karzai.

Calls to two Karzai spokesmen went unanswered because their mobile phones were shut off.

Karzai told CNN on Monday that he has no intention of breaking with Washington, which is pouring 30,000 more troops into the fight against the Taliban.

"It's just to make sure that we all understand as to where each one of us stands," Karzai said. "Afghanistan is the home of Afghans and we own this place. And our partners are here to help in a cause that's all of us. We run this country, the Afghans."

The lawmakers agreed that the threat to join the Taliban did not appear serious but reflected Karzai's anger over U.S. and international pressure on several issues, including electoral reform, combating corruption and contacts with Taliban insurgents.

Those differences were sharpened by Obama's unannounced visit to Kabul on March 28. In advance of the trip, Obama's national security adviser, James Jones, told reporters that Karzai needed once and for all to confront corruption and "be seized with how important that is." Karzai's advisers found the public tongue-lashing humiliating — especially coming from a guest.

At the same time, the U.S. and its partners have been urging Karzai to reform the electoral system to avoid the corruption that marked the Aug. 20 presidential balloting, when a third of the president's votes were thrown out by a U.N.-backed anti-fraud watchdog.

That forced him under U.S. pressure to accept an embarrassing runoff, which was called off when his remaining challenger complained that the second election would be no cleaner than the first. The U.S. and its partners want changes in place by September, when Afghans choose a new parliament.

Karzai associates have said the president considers Western complaints of corruption a smoke screen to discredit his government and draw attention from the fact that most of the billions in international aid have been squandered by the donors themselves and not wasted by his government.

Last February, Karzai issued a presidential decree taking control of the anti-fraud body and removing U.N.-appointed foreigners from any watchdog role.

Karzai's outbursts over the past week came after the parliament overturned the decree, a move the president believed was in response to international pressure.

Moreover, Karzai has been frustrated by the reluctance of the U.S. to endorse negotiations with the Taliban leadership. The Obama administration is keen to offer incentives to rank-and-file Taliban fighters to switch sides but believes negotiations with insurgent leaders are pointless as long as the insurgents believe they are winning.

Karzai suspects the U.S. or the Pakistanis engineered the arrest in February of the Taliban's No. 2 commander, with whom the Afghan leader had been in communication, as a way to cut off or take control of the negotiations, according to Karzai aides. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was confidential.

Nevertheless, Karzai's remarks have raised concern among some parliament members, who fear he may overplay his hand by undercutting public support in the United States for the war.

"This was an irresponsible speech by President Karzai," lawmaker Sardar Mohammad Rahman Ogholi said of Thursday's remarks. "Karzai is feeling isolated and without political allies. ... The fight against terrorism, corruption, and narcotics requires a strong government. Unfortunately, the Karzai government is far too weak to fight all these elements."

We should not be surprised by this development.  You can only spank a grown man in public so many times before he gets ornery. 

If COIN is about a narrative of legitimacy, then why have we (the West) spent so much energy doing the enemy's work by always referring to the "corrupt Karzai government"? 

Sometimes you have to hold your nose and support the guy you picked.

We all know the real calibre of this bloke, he's proved that over and over again, hasn't he. Words like cronisim, and corruption come to mind.  I am sure one day sooner than later, he'll be caught up in an IED or in the crosshairs of an enemy sniper.

We as foreigners might find him nothing more than what he is, but many of his own kind want him dead.

Time will tell. Selling out to the TB would not be an easy out or transition for him, that I reckon is guaranteed. Many see lots of TB blood on his hands, and how the TB would take what he is saying, well who knows.

Meanwhile I tend to wonder what spin the Obama admistration will put on this.


EDITed for clarity and spelling
Karzai is about par for the course throughout most of the third world, a goodly part of the second world and bits of the first world, too. Corruption, cronyism, ineptitude and nepotism and, and, and ... have rarely disqualified thugs and worse from high political office.

Sadly there is no quick fix. We began working at "a government of law, not of men" about 2,000 years before John Adams coined that phrase (in Massachusetts in 1780); the principle exists in Chinese law as well as English law, and the Chinese worked at it long before most others. But, despite millennia of trial and error, we rarely get it right. Sophisticated, legalistic democracies are not very common - most of the UN's nearly 200 members states fail even the most basic tests of democracy and the rule of law.

As PPCLI Guy said, we put him there; we do not appear to have any better candidates; maybe it's time we tried to help him in his nearly impossible task rather than whipping him in public.
Middle Eastern Democracy is a joke.

"Oh im President for 50 years because my people LOOOOOVE me. I am clearly a Messiah! Damn those who oppose me!"
My sense of things is that most people, throughout most of the world - I certainly haven't seen it all - want some sort of democracy; they want to have some say in how they are governed. But the rule of law based democracy we enjoy is the product of a couple of thousand years of Romano-British, Northern European and Anglo-American history and socio-cultural mores. The sort of rule based democracy they have in e.g. Japan, Taiwan and Singapore is based on a couple of thousand years of East Asian, Confucian, Doaist/Taoist and Shinto history and socio-cultural mores. The former produced a series of liberal democracies and the latter a series of conservative democracies; there exist, also, many countries with illiberal democracies.

Countries lacking in (religiously) reformed (and counter-reformed) and enlightened histories are unlikely to see much value in ongoing democracy. Sometimes, as in e.g. Algeria a few years ago, we see that many people will seek, through free and fair elections, a theocracy or some other form of stable (safe) government that reflects their social-cultural mores.

There appears to be some correlation between education/literacy and respect for the rule of law and democracy, but while better education + respect for the rule of law ≈ democracy, better education (by itself) ≠ democracy; the missing link is 'respect for the rule of law' which is a cultural value. The cultural values likely follow Maslow's hierarchy of needs and they appear only after the physiological, safety, social and esteem needs have been met - thus the apparent link between prosperity and democracy. Maybe only those who are safe, secure and prosperous have the time and social resources to devote to 'democracy.'

It may be, also, that Islam offers a compelling socio-political alternative to many people.
We in the West have created the word "Taliban" to be quite a bad thing in order to easily identify an enemy, but the reality in southern A'Stan is that the average person really isn't that different from them.

It's not like WW2 when you could go into a France town and ask "Where are the Germans? (in French), because they look and act very different.

What's perhaps the funniest is that Karzai's government (or any one that A'Stan would forward) and the Taliban probably have closer idiologies than the Conservatives and NDP.

One thing I like about what he said was drawing a line between the outsider Al Quaida types and the Taliban (which literally means "student").

The Canadian public unfortunately also lumps in Taliban with "terrorist", so this just makes Canadians want to stop the Afghan effort even more (as witnessed by the amount of posters on the CBC website who are now demanding to leave immidiately)
who cares what the stupid Afghanistan press thinks or the Afghanistan people. we go there to do a job and we do it regardless of what people think so just do your thing... they are the country of the enemy anyways
munchies said:
who cares what the stupid Afghanistan press thinks or the Afghanistan people. we go there to do a job and we do it regardless of what people think so just do your thing... they are the country of the enemy anyways

Wow....just effin'...wow.  You're aware it's their country that our troops are in, right?
munchies said:
who cares what the stupid Afghanistan press thinks or the Afghanistan people. we go there to do a job and we do it regardless of what people think so just do your thing... they are the country of the enemy anyways
And this is why you fail.
munchies said:
who cares what the stupid Afghanistan press thinks or the Afghanistan people. we go there to do a job and we do it regardless of what people think so just do your thing... they are the country of the enemy anyways
Okay, you can like or dislike the Afghanistan government (whom we put in power), but to suggest that we have a job to do irregardless of the Afghanistan people is definitely the wrong mindset.
well we are going to do what we have to do regardless of what the Iraqis have to say. sure if the government said something that would be different. But if the iraqi press wants to be an emotional bitch it shouldn't matter... If there are going to be people killing or becoming a threat becauwe the iraqi press tells stupid stories than maybe its good that they do somthing and our army does somehitng about them
Shhh, that's enough, grownups are talking.
I wasn't trying to present an argument, as I thought was plainly obvious.
sarcasm, because what you said was obviously  nothing important... sarcasm