Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hamid Karzai: President, Smack Addict?

The statement on Tuesday was pretty amazing; during an interview with MSNBC, Peter Gaibraith, formerly the United Nations #2 man in Afghanistan, accused President Hamid Karzai of secretly being a heroin addict. He based his claim on leaks from “insiders” in Karzai’s regime and said that drug abuse could explain the Afghan president’s recent wild mood swings – in the past week Karzai claimed that Western nations tried to fix Afghanistan’s recent presidential election (more on that in a minute), railed against American interference in his government and even claimed he might “join the Taliban.” Meanwhile, according to The Guardian, Afghan opposition leader, and Karzai’s challenger in last year’s elections, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah also accused Karzai of “erratic” behavior adding that: “as a former colleague and [medical] doctor I think this is beyond a normal attitude.” Relations between Karzai’s regime and the United States are at such a low point now the rumor is that he may be uninvited to a long-planned state visit to Washington next month.

Much of the recent flap between Karzai and the US centers on the Afghan electoral commission. Karzai is set to make key appointments to the body that oversees Afghanistan’s elections. The commission is currently made up of both Afghan and international (United Nations supplied) members, but Karzai wants the commission to be all Afghani, and all appointed by him.

President Karzai has learned the secret of modern autocrats around the world – if you pick who conducts the elections, then you don’t have to rely on primitive ways of fixing the outcome like stuffing ballot boxes or beating up opposition candidates. The commission simply counts the votes they like (the ones cast for you), tosses out the ones they don’t like (the ones cast for your opponents), and certifies the whole thing as fair and legal. It’s a simple way of effectively making you president for life. Keep in mind that it was the international members of the electoral commission who uncovered Hamid Karzai’s attempts at vote rigging in last year’s Afghan presidential elections where nearly a million fraudulent ballots, all for Karzai, were eventually rejected. Though Karzai is now claiming that the fraud was in fact committed by Western nations – though he doesn’t explain why he would then be upset at Western attempts to stuff ballot boxes for him.

Finally, Der Spiegel suggests that Karzai’s recent behavior isn’t the result of heroin but rather is because of hurt feelings and a sense of wounded pride. Karzai, they say, is upset at what he believes are attempts by Western governments to tell him how he should run his country. Karzai is reported to have recently said: “I am not a servant of a colonial regime, not a puppet president - I would rather die.”
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