Karzai Wins Again?

Remember the not-so-distant past when the word ‘corruption’ peppered every official US comment on Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government?  Yet the ‘C’ word has been conspicuously absent during Karzai’s feel good tour of Washington this week.  President Obama claimed that the ‘perceived tensions’ were ‘simply overstated’; this despite the fact that as recently as last month, Karzai reportedly told  a group of Afghan lawmakers that he should quit the political process and join the Taliban.  So why have recriminations and threats suddenly been replaced by smiles and handshakes?

It has nothing to do with cleaning up corruption, that’s for sure.  By all accounts, it’s still business as usual in Kabul and Karzai’s brother, an alleged drugs lord, is still living large in Kandahar.   In my view, the Afghan President is being given the red carpet treatment not because of the ‘C’ word but because of the ‘D’ word – deadline.

President Obama hopes to begin withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan by July 2011.  Abandoning Karzai so late in the game would undoubtedly push this deadline back; something which would not go down well with US voters at a time when Obama will be gearing up for re-election. (Unlike Britain, US campaigning starts more than a year before voters actually go to the polls).

Karzai knows this all too well and true to form, he is manipulating the situation to his advantage.  As I’ve said in previous blogs, Karzai is an astute man who can run rings around his western counterparts.  It boggles the mind how in a matter of weeks, he’s refocused the Afghan debate away from corruption and toward issues which can only bolster him back home; limiting civilian causalities and reconciling with the Taliban.

Carrot or stick, Karzai will do what is best for Karzai.  And like a hard done by political wife, Obama is so invested in the Afghan President he has no choice but to stand by his man.  But does Britain have to stand by him as well?  Don’t forget, that while Karzai is being showered with affection in Washington, an innocent and upstanding British commercial security manager, Bill Shaw languishes in a notorious Kabul jail.

Unlike President Obama, the new British Prime Minister David Cameron has just come through an election and is therefore in an outstanding position to shake up foreign policy.  I personally would like the new PM to withdraw British troops from Afghanistan immediately. I doubt that’s on the cards though, so I’ll settle for demanding Mr. Shaw’s immediate release.

Published by: bobshepherdauthor

Bestselling author Bob Shepherd has spent nearly forty years operating in conflict areas around the world. A twenty year veteran of Britain’s elite 22 SAS Regiment with nearly two decades of private security work to his credit, Bob has successfully negotiated some of the most dangerous places on earth as a special forces soldier and a private citizen. Bob comments regularly on security issues and has appeared on CNN International, BBC, SKY News, and BBC Radio. He has also authored numerous articles and books including the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller The Circuit. In addition to writing and lecturing, Bob continues to advise individuals operating in hostile environments. For more of his insights on security and geopolitics visit www.bobshepherdauthor.com

Categories AfghanistanTags, , , , 1 Comment

One thought on “Karzai Wins Again?”

  1. Thanks again Bob. It makes me sick to my stomach to think this can happen to lives in order to win political games. After all Bill has done for his country throughout his life should count for something!! Cameron must act here as it seems Afghanistan are doing all the “taking”….our soldiers lives, liberty and tax payers money to name a few, but what are we getting in return?

    I just know whatever the outcome now for Bill, he will never be the same man I kissed goodbye back in Jan. Thank you Mr Karzai.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s