Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Why Karzai decided to attack the West

April 2, 2010
(REUTERS/Ahmad Masood)

(REUTERS/Ahmad Masood)

It was a strange or at least unusual event. Reuters, other news wires and mostly Afghan journalists were summoned to the presidential palace early in the morning. A frequent and very familiar routine of standing around, waiting and multiple security checks then started .

On this occasion, we were packed onto mini buses with blacked-out windows and told only that we would be leaving the palace and going “some place outside”. The guessing game ended when the buses, flanked by armored Land Cruisers and charging down a busy city highway, honking other vehicles out of the way,  turned into another building very familiar to reporters in Kabul: the Independent Election Commission (IEC).

It is not unusual for President Hamid Karzai to give press conferences elsewhere in Afghanistan (in other cities for instance) but I cannot recall a time when he addressed reporters in Kabul anywhere but the press room of his palace. Not knowing what was in store, I reminded myself it was also April Fool’s day.

We all agreed that we might get a response out of Karzai about the rejection of a presidential decree by the lower house of parliament and possibly something about the reforms that the U.N. has wanted of the IEC.

What we got instead was some of Karzai’s strongest words against the West and the international community. The defiant tone was set by Azizullah Ludin, the Chairman of the IEC, who gave an impassioned and rather rambling speech about how hard he had tried to serve the Afghan people, about how difficult the presidential election in August had been to monitor and how sad he was that the foreigners were interfering so much and manipulating the efforts of the IEC.

Ludin’s deputy, the Chief Electoral Officer, Daoud Ali Najafi, then followed with a much shorter but equally defensive testimony of what he had gone through and the pressures he faced. IEC colleagues and Karzai nodded in support. The whole thing (was it a press conference? An extraordinary meeting? An open exchange of feelings about how last August’s elections went?) started to feel a bit like a rather grandiose cognitive therapy session, in which people who have been scarred by something in their life, in this case an experiment with democracy, “share their pain” with like-minded sufferers as a catharsis.

Ludin and Najafi were heavily criticized by Karzai’s main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah,  the sacked U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, Peter Galbraith, and the media, during and after the elections.

But the really strong stuff was to come from Karzai — a man whose image was tarnished by fraud which was found to be widespread in August’s election, who is under huge amounts of pressure to curb corruption and who had been snubbed by U.S. Barack Obama for 15 months before getting to finally meet the man, who is responsible for more than 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan, in a whirlwind night time visit.

Ludin had already turned the wooden podium at an angle so that it would face a row of officials (including Karzai) who were seated to his left. Karzai took the position — wearing a beautifully cut pirahan tomban (sometimes referred to as a shalwar kermeez) but without his trademark traditional Afghan choppan dress-coat —  addressing Ludin, Najafi and scores of other election officials seated behind them,  he began his diatribe about “the foreigners”. There was heavy use of this phrase — something picked up by many blogs and commentators. But it is, after all, the most efficient way to refer to the United States, the United Nations, NATO and Britain collectively in English as well as in Dari and Pashto. But some writers, including some of my own colleagues, thought Karzai had lost the plot and “gone mad”.  But the entire event was really a face-saving exercise for Ludin, Najafi and the IEC, and an effort to preserve them some dignity and lay the groundwork either for their resignations or, more likely, their dismissal.

The lion’s share of Karzai’s vitriol was saved for Galbraith. Last year Najafi had told me off the record that Galbraith had telephoned him to warn him not to announce that Karzai had won after the first round, even if the vote count said so. He also told me about what General Philippe Morillonhad demanded of Ludin — that he not announce any results until the French General had a chance to forge an alliance between Abdullah and Karzai. Karzai used his speech to announced these accusations. At the time of the elections IEC officials were also concerned that Morillon’s politics harmed his own partiality and credibility as an outside observer. They felt that his past meetings, as part of a European delegation, with the assassinated anti-Taliban Tajik mujahideen leader Ahmad Shah Masoud, whom Abdullah worked closely with and is strongly associated with, years earlier, made him pro-Abdullah.

The criticism aimed at Ludin, Najafi and Karzai from Western leaders during the elections was evidently justified, given there was fraud, and on a massive scale, something Karzai himself even admitted to in his speech. But figures such as Galbraith, Morillon and the man who led the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) Grant Kippen, were subject to hardly any scrutiny at all. Electoral officials told me at the time that they felt this lack of balance in the way the Afghan side of the electoral process was portrayed compared to the Westerners involved, almost amounted to some form of racism. The Afghans were painted as incompetent, untrustworthy and incapable of standing up to Karzai’s authority and the Westerners were the hard-working arbiters of fairness, transparency and, of course, democracy.

It may be more helpful to consider that Karzai had not gone mad, rather that he was hitting back and holding his ground in the face of worsening popularity at home and abroad. The task of having to sack Ludin and Najafi hangs over him and he knows he will struggle to find parliamentary support for a decree which, if passed, will ban foreigners from the ECC. If he does not remove Najafi and Ludin, he risks a stronger pounding by the media and the West ahead of September’s parliamentary elections. But he will remove them on his own terms, which means standing-up for the IEC and making it clear to the world that he is doing it not for the sake of democracy’s future in Afghanistan, but because “the foreigners” have cornered him and given him no other choice.


Iran has started its work with Karzai. That man is tainted anyway. We all know he is a fraud. Get rid of him now while you still can.

Posted by Do or Die | Report as abusive

As an Afghan, honestly, I belief Karzai’s stupidity is not beyond belief but you would surprise if he wouldn’t say this.

I wrote something here: -justify-karzais-words.html


Mr Karzai is a Pashtoon and his stance is exactly in line with those of previous Afghan Amirs and any Pashtoon leader. I would not be surprised if he was to order the expulsion of all foreign troops one day. The west would then learn to know how the Pashtoons defend their land.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

Afghanistan, color revolutions and the critical role of the Voice Of America.

April 6, 2010 by

Afghanistan, color revolutions and the critical role of the Voice Of America.

It is obvious that a huge political crack is appearing between Washington and Kabul. After the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the world knows that Hamid Karzai was installed as the President of Afghanistan by the U.S. So, when I heard President Karzai accusing the U.N. and the international community of “interfering with the outcome of last year’s presidential elections and attempting to weaken his authority”, and just so we would have clarity, when he stated to the BBC that the “U.S. and others played a role in perpetrating the fraud”, I thought this is the time to think in terms of a “color revolution”. But, Why?

It seems that the U.S. was not too happy with Karzai’s re-election, since then, it has become U.S. policy to blame Karzai’s government of corruption and incompetence. In pursuing the agenda of sidelining Karzai, the U.S. has started dealing directly with Afghan provinces (e.g.Kandahar,Helmand) bypassing the central government. Regardless of the wishes of the U.S. it has no choice but to stick with Karzai for the time being.

President Karzai also knows that the U.S. is not going to be involved in the affairs of Afghanistan for the long haul. At least, in terms of military involvement. Therefore, he does not want to be seen as an agent of a foreign power by Afghanis who have always been suspicious of foreigners through out their history. Moreover, he must think that the time is ripe for him to make amends with certain war lords and threaten the U.S. According to The Wall Street Journal, Karzai said: “that the U.S. was interfering with Afghan affairs and that the Taliban would become a legitimate resistance movement if it did not stop.” Interesting.

As stated already, despite a serious U.S. aversion towards its original friend, Hamid Karzai, America has no choice but to call him a partner and plan a meeting with him in May,2010. This state of affairs between Washington and Kabul, leads one to think in terms of The Rose Revolution in Georgia, The Orange in Ukraine, The Tulip in Kyrgyzstan, The Cedar in Lebanon, The Grape in Moldova, The Green in Iran, and some unnamed ones, like in Ethiopia, (2005)etc. give credence to some when they raise the issue of U.S. government and certain NGO’s support and even planning in order to serve the interests of the west.

Sreeram Chaulia wrote, “ transitional actors, comprising of international Ngo’s at the hub of advocacy networks capitalize on opportunity structures offered by internationalism, acting as vectors of influence and maintaining constant criticism of vulnerable target states.” Chaulia continues, “Transitional actors penetrate target states by harping on issue areas like human rights that enable coalitions with powerful state actors who favor such norms.” He concludes,” rarely has the US promoted human rights and democracy in a region when it did not suit its grander foreign-policy objectives”.

According to The Guardian, USAID, National Endowment For Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and Freedom House are directly involved with supporting the color revolutions. One can add to this list, The Soros Foundation, Open Society Institute in which a number of Central Asian nations were forced to shut down OSI regional offices after the Orange revolution in Ukraine and, the U.S. based Albert Einstein Institution that activists from Serbia and Ukraine have claimed to be trained by in the formation of their strategies.

Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the U.S. treasury writing on Iran, said “according to Kenneth Timmerman head of the Foundation for Democracy, it was the U.S. money that funded Mousavi’s claims that Ahmadinejad stole the last Iranian election.” Moreover,”during President George W. Bush’s regime, it became public knowledge that American money is used to purchase Iranians to work against their own country. In 2007 The Washington Post reported that Bush authorized spending more than $ 400 million U.S. dollars for activities that included supporting rebel groups opposed to the country’s ruling clerics.”

A number of people who have closely followed the successes of color revolutions concur, that the key to victory rests with the able work of The Voice Of America, (VOA). Without its positive coverage of the works of International NGO’s and its local agents, and its continuous denunciations of the policies of target countries, nothing would have been accomplished.

The VOA which got its start in 1942 when it broadcast via shortwave to Nazi Germany is primarily a propaganda outlet for the U.S. government, which uses it to further its global political, military and economic interests. As a U.S. government propaganda outlet, the VOA is barred from broadcasting in the U.S. by the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948. “Information produced by VOA for audiences outside the United States shall not be disseminated within the United States”.

The U.S. understands how potent the VOA is as a propaganda tool. No wonder, it lashes out rudely on countries that try to limit or control VOA’s dissemination of what they consider to be irresponsible propaganda that leads to incitements. Now, consider H.R. 2278 which was introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). The bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, by an overwhelming vote of 395 to 3 with 36 abstentions.

The Bill entitled “Anti-American Incitement To Violence In The Middle East” States in its findings section:

“(1) Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are the foundations of free and prosperous societies worldwide, and with the freedom of the press and freedom of expression comes the responsibility to repudiate purveyors of incitement to violence.”

In the definitions section of the bill it defines Anti-American Incitement To Violence.

“(1) ANTI-AMERICAN INCITEMENT TO VIOLENCE.–The term “anti-American incitement to violence” means the act of persuading, encouraging, instigating, advocating, pressuring, or threatening so as to cause another to commit a violent act against any person, agent, instrumentality, or official of, is affiliated with, or is serving as a representative of the United States.”

In the Bill’s section of Statement of policy, it states,

It shall be the policy of the United States to—

“designate as Specially Designated Global Terrorists satellite providers that knowingly and willingly contract with entities designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order 13224, to broadcast their channels, or to consider implementing other punitive measures against satellite providers.”

Finally, the report section of the Bill directs the President of the United States to do the following:

(1)” REQUIREMENT FOR REPORTS.–Beginning 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act and annually thereafter, the President shall transmit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on anti-American incitement to violence in the Middle East.”

(2) “CONTENT.–The reports required under paragraph (1) shall include—“

(A)” a country-by-country list and description of media outlets that engage in anti-American incitement to violence; and”

(B)” a list of satellite companies that carry mediums described in subparagraph (A) or designated under Executive Order 13224.”

I am a firm believer in national sovereignty for all independent countries of the world (irrespective of where they are located, or their GNP). In this case, America’s supreme and independent authority to rule, and make laws that it deems is in the interest of its people is unquestionable. It only becomes the mother of all hypocrisies when the U.S. denies other sovereign nations not to do, what it believes is the right thing to do for itself.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Posted by Ashley St.Claire | Report as abusive

@A S claire
That you write on this forum about the executive orders and the US congress deliberations baffels me. The world has always been better off when the empires fall and the great powers regress. Let us remind ourself of the Roman empire, the European colonialists and the Nazi reich. Today the US administration is threatning the use of nuclear weapons against pre specified States. Do we need further evidence of the leaders in your country going bonkers.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

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