US ultimatum to Karzai to clean up corruption in Afghanistan: no US leverage

Former ambassador Ronald E. Neumann says, “The argument that we could pull out of Afghanistan if Karzai doesn’t do what we say is stupid. We couldn’t get the Pakistanis to fight if we leave Afghanistan; we couldn’t accomplish what we’ve set out to do. And Karzai knows that.”

Fraudulently-elected Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan received an ultimatum from the United States regarding cleaning up his government of corruption. While US President Obama is dead serious about the warning, the US government really has no options should Karzai not reel in Afghan corruption.

In the first place, ending corruption in Afghanistan is more than a tall order for any government head. ‘Administration officials and America’s European allies say that rampant corruption and the illegal drug trade in Afghanistan have fueled the resurgence of the Taliban, and that unless Mr. Karzai moves forcefully to tackle those issues, no amount of additional American troops will be able to turn the country around.’

While Obama’s rare and public call has a US troop pullout as its dangling threat, the Obama administration knows for a fact that doing so would definitely destabilize the region and jeopardize US interests in Central Asia.

The real question is: ‘How much leverage does the United States really have over the Afghan leader?’

Mr. Obama himself laid down the stakes last week when he said he wanted “a sense on the part of President Karzai that, after some difficult years in which there has been some drift, that in fact he’s going to move boldly and forcefully forward and take advantage of the international community’s interest in his country to initiate reforms internally. That has to be one of our highest priorities.”

However, ‘withdrawing all troops would not serve American interests, officials said; aside from the chaos it could cause in Afghanistan, a pullout could tip the balance in even more volatile Pakistan, where the government is battling Taliban militants.’

That leaves the US with not much choice but to support a tainted Afghan president and hope beyond hope that he can, indeed, clean up his messy and messed up country. Already, Karzai’s has appointed some of his ultra-corrupt cronies in his cabinet.


Via The New York Times

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