Kevin is off until Tuesday. I’m blogging for him until then.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday criticised the US ambassador’s presence at a meeting calling for a decentralisation of his government, adding he would fight such moves “tooth and nail”.
Karzai said ambassador Karl Eikenberry’s attendance at a press conference this month, where a leading rival to the president in the August 20 elections had called for the change, was deeply sensitive and “raises concerns”.
This was especially because of recent US and British media reports of plans laid in “Washington and in London to bring a change into the structure of governance in Afghanistan to weaken the central government of Afghanistan,” Karzai said.
There’s been plenty of tension between the Obama administration and Karzai. At his first White House press conference, President Obama noted that Karzai’s government was “very detached” from the rest of the country. That was quite a slam.
Since then–especially when Obama unveiled his strategic review concerning Afghanistan and Pakistan–the White House has tried to downplay its dissastisfaction with Karzai. But Karzai is accutely aware of it. And now he’s making it part of his reelection strategy. This might help him. His government has been plagued by corruption and incompetence. But there’s a lot of popular anger at the United States military for its bombing assaults, which kill innocent civilians, and its raids on homes, which humiliate and intimidate Afghans. If Karzai holds on to power by playing the anti-USA card, it will not make Obama’s already difficult job in Afghanistan any easier.
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