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Examiner.com, August 24, 2010

Karzai relies on corruption for survival according to former ambassador

The latest story is that the corruption case against Salehi is wider than previously thought and Karzai wants to prevent Salehi from spilling his guts to investigators

By Michael Hughes

A former American ambassador to Kabul claims that the U.S. forced Afghan President Hamid Karzai to rely on corruption for his very political survival, according to the New York Times:

Former US Embassador to Kabul Ronald E. Neumann
Examiner.com, Aug. 24, 2010: “We had a year and a half making Karzai convinced that he has to tighten ties with these corrupt people in order to survive,” said Ronald E. Neumann, the American ambassador to Kabul from 2005 to 2007. “You can’t ignore the corruption, but you can’t ignore the fact that Karzai sees some of it as vital to his survival,” he said.

Still, some experts said that the previous “tough love” strategy had fostered paranoia inside the presidential palace in Kabul, leading Mr. Karzai to conclude the United States was trying to push him out.

“We had a year and a half making Karzai convinced that he has to tighten ties with these corrupt people in order to survive,” said Ronald E. Neumann, the American ambassador to Kabul from 2005 to 2007.

Mr. Neumann said that the July 2011 date for the beginning of a military withdrawal from Afghanistan has only reinforced Mr. Karzai’s belief that he must cut deals with unsavory but powerful figures to remain in charge after the Americans leave.

“You can’t ignore the corruption, but you can’t ignore the fact that Karzai sees some of it as vital to his survival,” he said.

Now the U.S. and DEA have trained an Afghan anticorruption task force that is putting pressure on Karzai and his inner circle that has caused a major rift between the U.S. and Afghan governments. Karzai has reacted poorly to the corruption investigations as pointed out in an Afghanistan Headlines Examiner article yesterday:

Late last week Karzai directly intervened to win the quick release of senior aide Mohammad Zia Salehi who had been arrested on corruption charges, even after the detention had been personally approved by the country's attorney general. The latest story is that the corruption case against Salehi is wider than previously thought and Karzai wants to prevent Salehi from spilling his guts to investigators.

A commission formed by Karzai concluded that Afghan agents and U.S.-supported law enforcement units had violated Salehi's human rights and were operating outside the constitution – charges which U.S. officials believe are politically motivated. Two American-backed Afghan task forces, one known as the Major Crimes Task Force and the other called the Sensitive Investigative Unit have caused Karzai the most problems and have come the closest in exposing the totality and enormity of the corruption in Kabul.

Today the Afghan government announced new rules in a not-too-transparent effort to consolidate power and control these anticorruption units. Karzai spokesperson Waheed Omar said at a news conference that the new government rules would rein in the two American-backed agencies.

Despite widespread allegations of corruption involving President Karzai’s relatives, including his half brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, investigators have yet to take action against any family members. Some investigators have stated that they fear for their family’s lives if they go after the Karzais too aggressively, and they don’t believe anyone can take down those close to Karzai.

Category: Corruption - Views: 5254


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