4 years, 9 months ago
President Obama and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai praised each other Wednesday and insisted the tenuous relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan has never been stronger, but they didn’t erase significant differences over how to govern the patchwork nation.
“There are days that we are happy. There are days that we are not happy. It’s a mutual relationship towards a common objective,” Karzai said at a joint East Room press conference. “The bottom line is that we are much more strongly related to each other today than we ever were before in this relationship.”
When the two leaders met more than a month ago in Kabul, Obama was frank and insisted Karzai crack down on corruption in his government, which the U.S. believes has hurt military and diplomatic efforts. Karzai publicly squawked about the tone of that meeting.
There are even bigger differences to be resolved. The U.S. is particularly concerned about peace talks Karzai would like to open with Taliban leaders and regional warlords while U.S. troops are in the midst of a campaign in the Helmand Valley region.
Even though the issue remains prickly for both leaders, they used the occasion to try to cast a more positive image of friendship and solidarity. Though not a full-fledged state visit, Obama even gave Karzai the red carpet treatment.
Of their differences, Obama said, “A lot of them were simply overstated,” adding, “I am very comfortable with the strong efforts that President Karzai has made thus far and I think we both agree that we’re going to have to make more efforts in the future.”
TCJ three days prior concerning Ahmed Wali Karzai, Hamid Karzai’s criminal brother who runs Kandahar like a mobster.
“The plan is to incorporate him, to shape him. Unless you eliminate him, you have to [do this],” said a senior coalition official involved in planning what is viewed as this summer’s make-or-break military operation in Kandahar. “You can’t ignore him,” he added. “He’s the proverbial 800lb gorilla and he’s in the middle of a lot of rooms. He’s the mafia don, the family fixer, the troubleshooter.”
“ISAF faces a number of political challenges as well. A majority of Afghan watchers point to Ahmed Wali Karzai as one of the biggest barriers to smooth operations in the city—he demands a cut of most commerce that takes place in the area, and the DEA alleges he has ties to the illegal narcotics industry. However, because he is the President’s brother, there is no chance of removing him from power. Similarly, Kandahar is, in effect, run by a group of families organized into mafia-style crime rings. They skim profits off almost all reconstruction projects in the city, and have developed a lucrative trade ripping off ISAF initiatives. They sometimes violently clash with each other.”
From the Guardian.
Barack Obama warned today that coalition forces in Afghanistan faced months of hard fighting, but said they had started to “reverse the momentum of the insurgency” by taking the fight to the Taliban.
From the Air Force Times.
The Taliban no longer run and hide when they see a fighter jet overhead, brazenness that airmen attribute to the nearly year-old directive to limit close-air support.
Joint terminal attack controllers, airmen on the ground who call in airstrikes, and fighter pilots report that insurgents are encouraging each other to continue firing because they know the Air Force’s F-16s and A-10s are dropping far fewer bombs now than this time last year.
“Keep fighting; [coalition forces] won’t shoot” is the order that enemy leaders are giving — in Pashtun and Dari, words that the JTACs have heard over their radios.
One is almost persuaded to believe that the White House is spewing forth propaganda.