Afghanistan’s president threatens ‘to join the Taliban’

Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s beleaguered president, fired yet another shot over the bow of the West during a meeting with members of the Afghan parliament. From The New York Times:

At the meeting, Mr. Karzai stepped up his anti-Western statements, according to a Parliament member who attended but spoke on condition of anonymity.

“If you and the international community pressure me more, I swear that I am going to join the Taliban,” Mr. Karzai said, according to the Parliament member.

A spokesman for Mr. Karzai, Waheed Omar, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

The comments come just two days after making similar statements on Thursday, when he said the Taliban would become the legitimate resistance if the international community continues to interfere in Afghanistan’s internal politics.

Allissa Rubin’s new analysis at The New York Times neatly sums up the quandary facing the West in trying to wage a counterinsurgency with Karzai at the helm of the Afghan government. Peter Galbraith’s quote is sure to raise some eyebrows.

“There is no point in having troops in a mission that cannot be accomplished,” said Peter W. Galbraith, former United Nations deputy special representative for Afghanistan, who was dismissed over what his superiors called Mr. Galbraith’s advocacy of Mr. Karzai’s removal – an allegation Mr. Galbraith has denied. “The mission might be important, but if it can’t be achieved, there is no point in sending these troops into battle. Part of the problem is that counterinsurgency requires a credible local partner.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Guptan Veemboor says:

    Mr.Karzai is doing spade work to put a bridge between his government and Taliban ( which Pakistan is trying to dynamite). Once a bridge is done, it can be used either way.

  • Jimmy says:

    The US is supporting all the wrong people in AF-PAK. To get out of this mess in a hurry, it is committing grave mistakes likely to have serious damaging effects on friendly countries in this region.
    Read this:
    Pakistan is being rewarded for its cruelty. No wonder it won’t dismantle its factory of Jihad. Why will it, when it is the most (and the only) profit making, export oriented enterprise this failed sate has? Bet every one of these weapons will end up with the Pakistan strike corps facing India instead of the Taliban!!
    The US is ready to bank on Pakistan (who is clearly double-dealing with the US) rather than Karzai and India, who share the same concerns as the US. Friends are not always perfect…but they are better than known enemies.

  • Why not? Holbrooke is aligned against Karzai. The dilemma facing Karzai is that his Pushtun brethren are a minority today on both sides of Durand Line. Karzai is a proud Pushtun and he cannot bear to see this injustice being meted out by the Pakistani Army that are Punjabi dominated. And Holbrooke has bought into the Pakistani Army mindset.
    The truth Bill is that US Army makes a lot of illicit cash from the funding it gives to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Figure out the so called security experts who dot the region and which companies they work for. The Afghan opium too feeds the ISI and CIA war chest (look back at the movie American Gangster – true story of US military into narcotics trade). Corruption is endemic in that region and is part of the DNA of the US and Pakistan Army. Why blame Karzai only.
    The only Pushtun legitimacy remaining as a enthnocentric group today is the Taliban. And Pushtunistan – a land of the Pushtuns carving out regions from Afghanistan and Pakistan remains the true end game. An endgame that is loathed by ISI and increasingly by the USA.
    Hence if USA tries too hard to push Karzai, the Pustun nationalist in him, will side with the Taliban – those elements that are even favored by Iranians. A truly nightmarish scenario for the US. But then US hardly leaves space for dialogue !!

  • T Ruth says:

    “Part of the problem is that counterinsurgency requires a credible local partner.”

  • T Ruth says:

    Gen Flynn has claimed that Hekmatyar and Haqqani are “absolutey salvgable”. So, i don’t really see why there is a problem with Karzai joining them? 😉
    The US is now realising the damage done when they were openly accusing Karzai of corruption etc. They could’ve been more delicate about it, at least in public.
    As one commenter said somewhere in these columns, how is it that the US is screwing up diplomatically with Israel, Iran, Afghanistan and now possibly with Iraq, (and potentially with India) all at the same time….

  • Rosario says:

    Sounds like the US anti-corruption actions are having an effect on Mr. Karzai, and his friends. Perhaps we could arrange a meeting between him and Manuel Noriega?

  • Mr T says:

    That sounds more to me like an off the cuff ill conceived snarky remark. Plus, I think if he joined the Taliban, he won’t be long for this world.

  • Render says:

    eh, no.
    “American Gangster” is not a true story. It is a highly fictionalized account of the life of heroin smuggler Frank Lucas.
    The US Army and CIA were not directly involved in any way (the coffin story itself is disputed by Lucas’s former partner) and most certainly did not profit from Lucas’s drug smuggling. Nor did any other department of the US government until the DEA seized all of Lucas’s assets, and the Justice Department sentenced Frank Lucas to 70 years in prison.
    The CIA has no need for a drug fueled “war chest”. It already has a massive black budget of legal taxpayers money. Who do you think is paying for those UAV’s flinging Hellfires from Heaven? We, The People are.
    I fail to see how the US Army could possibly “make cash” from the US government giving aid to Pakistan. A lot of things are endemic to the US Army, corruption is not one of them.
    Enough of the thread-jacking…
    Karzai was once aligned with elements of the Talib, was he not?
    I have to point out again that US President Obama has made statements to the effect that all US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan during 2011. Karzai will not have an army strong enough to support him by then and the current Afghan government will likely fall to the ISI-backed Talib and their allies.
    Even a corrupt politition will recognize when he’s being thrown to the wolves by his former allies. A smart or pragmatic politition, (corrupt or otherwise, Karzai is both), will takes steps to appease the wolves before he lands at their feet.

  • Civy says:

    So Mr. Karzi wants to join the Taliban – in an early grave one presumes. Hopefully there is a hellfire somewhere with his name freshly painted on it, or a pledge among his guards that a momentary lapse in protection is in the best interests of all concerned.
    For those that think he is a skilled negotiator, perhaps perhaps hey will tell us how a skilled negotiator can benefit from accepting the other side’s position at the start of the negotiation.
    No, Karzi is every bit as corrupt as every man, woman and child in the country knows and professes him to be, and he and his corruption, right down to thugs in Police uniforms, are losing the war for all of us.

  • T Ruth says:

    Guys, you are so hung-up on this issue of corruption that you are losing sight of the real reason you are there–AQ and affiliates, esp and including the band of Taliban both sides of the border and the LeT, a surrogate of AQ.
    As for corruption, where, pray, is there no corruption in South Asia? Is pakistan not corrupt? How come the media doesn’t call that one a spade?
    Why don’t they dig deeper into the Coalition Support Fund and look at that can of worms. I bet you the US is keeping a lid on it too coz, i’m sorry to say they are hardly the pristine whiter-than-white tooth fairies.
    So why not just get on with the mission?
    I agree with Mr T’s comment above. In addition, the fact is that NONE OF US truly understand the kind of pressures that Karzai is under. Frankly its probably a wonder that he’s still alive at all.
    On politicians, on the aspect of corruption, i approach the matter with the assumption that they are all corrupt or corrupted, eventually in one form or another.
    And on Karzai lets not forget that his Presidential Pretender was the man who eventually threw in the towel obviating the final round of their election. Give the devil his due.
    Last i question, what has America given in these 9 yrs to Karzai to sell to his fellow Afghans? Is he supposed to say, i know our ally America has been here for 9 years, pls be patient for they are doing a grand job and they are going to in their last minute pull off a miracle, you will see, so trust me….
    When people start blaming each other, is when we really need to worry–and each side has to take a good look at itself.

  • Pashtun says:

    Does Karzai has a choice not to join Taliban? US/NATO failed to defeat Taliban. It failed to destroy it sponsers & sancturies. It is now sponsering Pakistan a declared epicenter of terroirsm of all kind. So if US is sponsering Taliban masters, what is wrong with Karzai talking to his Pashtun brothers. In fact there is a report in Quqnoosdotcom that Taliban spokesman saying that Karzai is their brother & that they have enough of ISI hypocrites selling them time & again.
    As US is as good as gone, Taliban is very precious comodity to be left on ISI disposal. Karzai do not need any help of ISI or US to talk to Taliban, it is that simple. It would be very stupid to think that Iran, India, Russia, China & other would leave Taliban at the disposal of ISI, they have already made inroads & are investing significant resources in Taliban. By the look of it, ISI & its sponser US have to eat humble pie in Afghanistan.

  • Rosario says:

    Ex-U.N. envoy: Karzai may have drug problem:
    An Afghan version of DC Mayor Marion Barry. We feel your pain Pashtun.

  • Micah says:

    I think Karzais position is tough. To sum it up simply, He has tried to obtain the favor of U.S. and his people. In the end, U.S. has turned his back on him because hes gone too “rogue”, while his people have turned their back on him because hes still seen as a U.S. puppet. Its an odd situation, and he gets screwed over by one group if hes on the others side too much, then gets screwed over by both if he tries to play it in the middle. From my readings, ive always viewed Karzai as an intellectual leader with moderate viewpoints, who was always critical of the Taliban. Its a shame to see things go this way, but i dont think hes had it easy or fair.

  • Oz says:

    I’ve been saying this for a long time, Karzai is a bigger boon to Taliban recruitment than the foreign troop presence. A kleptocrat with a narco-terrorist for a brother should not be our ally in Afghanistan. This is a mistake that should have been addressed a long time ago. To respond to T-ruth, the “corruption” per se of Karzai isn’t the problem – it’s the complete impotency and moral bankruptcy of his regime which has lead to it being reviled by the Afghan people which is the problem.

  • T Ruth says:

    Oz, isn’t the ‘moral bankruptcy’ you refer to corruption and so tautolgical?
    I’m not sure of him being reviled by his people. If so, there was an election marred or not, and his opponent withdrew from the final round. And just to emphasise, the US’s allies across the border are all kleptocrats too, big-time. They harbour AQ Central which is the bulls-eye of this war.
    With talk of discussions waning is the ineffectiveness of Karzai the new excuse to leave the theatre. Even if so it is pretty cheap for a failed-ex-diplomat, who has ridden his father’s coat-tails all his life to obtain his junior jobs from where he failed to impress his political engineering to be falling so low as to accuse Karzai personally of being a drug addict. It makes the US the one to look impotent.
    The White House threatening to cancel Karzai’s visit in May–also looks pretty cheap and classless. Do it if you want to but don’t sulk like a child threatening to grab your marbles and run.
    So, as i say, it is time for all to take a good look at themselves in the mirror of an utter stalemate.

  • KW64 says:

    It may be safer for Karzai to critcize the US than to take on his brother, the drug lords and other corrupt players. He knows that for the US, he is the only game in town even if the US administration doesn’t act like it.

  • T Ruth says:

    Here’s a pretty well-rpounded article on this subject by Jeffrey Gedmin, President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, based on a recent visit to Afghanistan where he met with many other than Karzai himself…..
    Gedmin is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations

  • Civy says:

    Karzi the only game in town? Please! Have you no grasp of history? Remember Vietnam? All it would take is for his guards to be preoccupied for a moment or two and he would be gone. No messy coupe de’ ta required.
    Having watched both men for some time now, I would have voted for his rival, who seems more familiar with Afghanistan’s issues, is more level-headed, and seems to be able to rise above his own personal ambitions.
    No government is free of corruption, but the litmus test is whether it is so corrupt that it’s citizens would rather seek justice elsewhere than support the government. Karzi is failing that litmus test.

  • James says:

    Good ol’ “taliban-talkin'” Karzai. I knew and predicted this long ago. Like Rumsfeld, this guy is nothing but a jinx in the war against terror.
    You’d all better get the message from Kryzigistan. If it wasn’t for the West, Karzai’s head would have been on a silver platter long ago.
    Why wasn’t he singing his “taliban tune” while US Special Ops were providing his presidential entourage protection?
    Somebody should call his bluff. Who’s he trying to BS? Seriously, do you honestly believe the taliban would even accept him?
    I’ve said this long ago. Karzai needs to be (to put it nicely) “eliminated.” We must encourage that CIA would get wise and take some sound advise.

  • T Ruth says:

    Sorry i don’t get your point abouut Afghan citizens seeking justice elsewhere…i’m not sure where? Also when did they last see justice the way you and i look at it?
    My larger point is: the election was months ago. The US needs to get back to its mission–Obama vs Osama, not Obama vs Karzai.
    I don’t have a problem with Abdullah, but he is not President. Also, he chose to withdraw from the final and decisive round. If he wasn’t convinced that it was going to be fair or if there were problems with the first round of counting, then the US must take its share of the blame. AFTER ALL, the American have been there for 8 long years and counting…..
    As for Karzai’s dispensability, NO ONE is indispensable.

  • wallbangr says:

    Uh, perhaps I’m way off base here, but does this seem reminiscent of Ngo Dinh Diem to anyone else? Not to say our clandestine services have to have a hand in it, but the seeming instability of Mr. Karzai makes me think he could end up losing all of the “friends” he has left…


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