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A Plausible Theory Concerning Karzai’s Behavior

Elizabeth Rubin, a former colleague at the Council on Foreign Relations and one of the savviest press observers of Hamid Karzai, floats a theory about what’s behind the resignations of Afghanistan’s minister of the interior and intelligence chief. She quotes a letter she received from a “well-placed Afghan insider,” who claims:

You are not going to believe this but Karzai believes that ISAF [NATO] was trying to scare or warn him by lobbing rockets at the Jirga tent on June 2. He believes that once ISAF was assured of him not making an anti-Western statement the rocketing stopped. He then went on to accuse his two security chiefs (Amrullah Saleh and Hanif Attmar) of colluding with ISAF.

Amrullah rejected this outright, arguing that if they wanted to get Karzai they would not have used an old rocket! He also declared that he could no longer work for him (the President).

He then walked out and resigned in a press conference later in the afternoon. Atmar followed suit an hour later.

This story is so bizarre that it just might be true. If so, it actually reinforces a point I made in my earlier posting on this subject: to wit, the dangers of letting Karzai feel isolated and alienated. If he has truly gotten to the point of thinking the U.S. may be trying to kill him, that is all the more reason for him to seek out unsavory alliances elsewhere to assure his survival. This confirms my impression that the key to handling Karzai is making him feel secure — something that the Obama administration has badly bungled.



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