US and Afghanistan: Bad trip

The Guardian
April 8, 2010

Within a short space of time, the relationship between President Hamid Karzai and his US and UN backers has plummeted. Soon after Barack Obama’s flying visit to Kabul, Mr Karzai told a meeting of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) – misnamed because it is packed with Karzai loyalists – that foreigners were to blame for the widespread fraud in the elections last year. Not just any foreigners, but Peter Galbraith, the former head of the UN mission to Afghanistan who blew the whistle on corrupt election practises. Hillary Clinton attempted to defuse the row in a phone call with Mr Karzai on Friday night, but the Afghan president went on to repeat his claims to Afghan MPs, reportedly threatening to join the Taliban if foreigners continued to interfere. On Tuesday night Mr Galbraith said in a television interview that Mr Karzai was unbalanced, prone to tirades and that he had a fondness for some of his country’s most profitable exports, meaning that he had a substance abuse problem.