WikiLeaks: Cables Portray Hamid Karzai as Weak and Corrupt
Diplomats describe Afghan president as weak, indecisive, paranoid and beholden to criminals to maintain power.
He may be vital to western plans in Afghanistan but Hamid Karzai is regularly described by frustrated diplomats and foreign statesmen as erratic, emotional and prone to believing paranoid conspiracy theories.
On some occasions Karzai’s own ministers accuse him of complicity in criminal activity, including ordering the physical intimidation of the top official in charge of leading negotiations with the Taliban.
In memos back to Washington, released by WikiLeaks, the current US ambassador, Karl Eikenberry, adopted a particularly weary tone when describing often bizarre meetings with the mercurial president.
In one in 2009, Karzai argued that the US intended to “divide Pakistan and weaken Afghanistan in order to pursue its fight against terrorist groups”; and suggested the US and Iran were working together to support his main political rival in the presidential elections. Eikenberry “pushed back hard” against Karzai’s claim in what appears to have been a heated exchange.
Eikenberry concluded it was unlikely Karzai would ever break his habit of blaming the US and its allies for Afghanistan’s troubles and not addressing his own shortcomings. “Indeed his inability to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state-building and his deep seated insecurity as a leader combine to make any admission of fault unlikely, in turn confounding our best efforts to find in Karzai a responsible partner.”
Eikenberry identified two competing personalities in Karzai. “The first is a paranoid and weak individual unfamiliar with the basics of nation-building and overly self-conscious that his time in the spotlight of glowing reviews from the international community has passed. The other is that of an ever-shrewd politician who sees himself as a nationalist hero who can save the country from being divided by the decentralisation-focused agenda of Abdullah [Karzai’s main rival in the 2009 election].”
Read related article “WikiLeaks cables portray Hamid Karzai as corrupt and erratic” in the Guardian here.
Document 1: Afghan finance minister calls Karzai ‘an extremely weak man’.
Friday, 26 February 2010, 11:38
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 KABUL 000699
EO 12958 DECL: 02/25/2020
TAGS PGOV, PREL, AF
SUBJECT: PRESSING KARZAI FOR ELECTORAL REFORM
REF: A. KABUL 645 B. KABUL 692
Classified By: Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (S) Summary: Ambassador Eikenberry and Deputy Ambassador Ricciardone demarched President Karzai and his inner circle on the problems of the final version of the electoral decree February 24-25, stressing the need for an independent Electoral Complaints Commission with international commissioners, protection of the vetting process, and change in Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) leadership. They cautioned that a successful U.S. visit hangs in the balance. End Summary.
To the Advisors: Protect Democracy and the Relationship
2. (S) On February 24, Deputy Ambassador Ricciardone separately called on Presidential Chief of Staff Omer Daudzai, Education Minister (recently named as the Peace Jirga coordinator) Farouk Wardak and Agriculture Minister Rahimi. Ricciardone made the following points with each:
— the election issue is a potential spoiler to a successful U.S. trip — and fixing it should be an urgent priority. Worse, it threatens to turn 2010 back into 2009 — derailing the strategic course agreed on and established from Karzai’s inauguration through the London conference.
— for elections to be credible the ECC and IEC cannot be seen to be in the pocket of the President.
— what matters now is how Karzai acts on the IEC, ECC and candidate vetting process.
He left a non-paper (para 15) with Daudzai and Wardak, who promised to raise this issue “the Afghan way.”
3. (S) Daudzai made excuses for having “missed the import of the decree,” which we had raised with him prospectively on February 8. He said it had been discussed in the Cabinet but gotten changed before its final presentation. He had spoken to Karzai-supporting Parliamentarians who were concerned about it and had told them to make their concerns public so the President understands. Ricciardone noted Parliament is confused over its right to review the decree, and this adds to our concerns about undue expansion of the President’s powers. Daudzai said he would add further Palace signals to Parliamentary leadership that they are empowered to review the decree. Ricciardone reiterated that this issue could undermine the prospective Karzai trip to the U.S. by compelling Karzai to explain and defend his actions at every turn, rather than focusing on the strategic opportunities and challenges ahead of us in 2010. Karzai must act in the next week or so (on the items cited above) in order to remove U.S. and Afghan concerns over the meaning of the decree. Daudzai alluded elliptically to his dinner meeting the previous evening with Minister of Interior Atmar and other supporters of the President who shared “serious concerns” about Karzai’s actions.
4. (S) Minister of Education Wardak agreed that the decree gives Karzai’s critics the evidence they want that he is not committed to democracy, and that it posed a serious problem in Karzai’s standing abroad as well as at home. Ricciardone noted that Afghan democracy would look different from other versions but that the foundation has to be based on credible institutions. He reiterated the need for changes at the IEC, a “genuinely independent” ECC, and a vetting process which can ensure no unreconstructed Taliban are eligible for office. Wardak agreed with these points and claimed that our “inseparable partnership” would be greatly served by a good U.S. visit. He promised to go directly to the President and to press Karzai to withdraw the decree in its entirety, and “improve it” before it is resubmitted. Frankly, Wardak said, this behavior was comparable to the power-grabs of the mujahedin in 1991-1992 — and he and Zakhilwal had already protested against it.
5. (S) On February 25, Ambassador Eikenberry called on Minister of Finance Omer Zakhilwal who told him that he could “almost guarantee” that he could persuade Karzai to act as we had urged regarding the ECC, candidate vetting, and Ludin,s replacement. He affirmed that the Ambassador was pursuing this agenda in the best way, by approaching Karzai clearly but respectfully and then allowing his inner circle of Ministers to prod him in the right direction. Zakhilwal noted that he was then meeting with Parliamentarians on the issue of the Presidential decree and that he was building support and a case for the points that Eikenberry had raised.
6. (S) Apparently echoing Daudzai, Zakhilwal went on to speak
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candidly about Karzai, saying that he was an “extremely weak man” who did not listen to facts but was instead easily swayed by anyone who came to him to report even the most bizarre stories of plots against him. Whenever this happened, Karzai would immediately judge the person to be loyal and would reward him. He warned against former FM Spanta pursuing his narrow self-interest at the expense of national ones, but in general affirmed to Eikenberry that the “inner circle” — now including Daudzai — had decided they must collaborate to influence Karzai when they see him going astray on such matters. They reportedly pledged that if Karzai took umbrage at them raising such sensitive issues, they would defend each other.
Message to Karzai: Don’t Put Success on the Line
7. (S) Meeting with Karzai, National Security Advisor Spanta and Deputy NSA Spinzada February 25, Ambassador Eikenberry asked Karzai what he wanted his trip to be about and how he wanted it to be perceived in the United States. He said he hoped it has become obvious to Karzai that the U.S. wants Karzai and Afghanistan to be strong. Eikenberry noted that the success of the visit would require that Americans to gain confidence that we have a reliable partner who is leading Afghanistan forward.
8. (S) Eikenberry went on to explain that democracy-building in Afghanistan could be among Karzai,s strongest legacies to the future and what he will be remembered for; and democracy promotion is in America’s “DNA” and how we judge institutional strength in any country. Reminding Karzai of the political risks our own President took on December 1 when he announced his strategy of deepened engagement in Afghanistan in the face of very real domestic opposition, Eikenberry pointed out that Karzai has always reminded us of Afghanistan’s domestic politics — now it is his turn to be aware of American domestic politics.
9. (S) At this point, before the planned one-on-one session, Karzai said he wanted Spanta to remain present. However, Spanta demurred, apparently sensing a difficult message would follow. Alone with Karzai, the Ambassador told Karzai that we want his visit to be about long-term strategic and political issues, including Karzai,s political vision and reintegration/reconciliation. It should lead us towards a stronger Afghanistan and a stronger Karzai. Eikenberry said that the sooner Karzai addresses pressing issues like electoral reform, the sooner he can remove distractions from his agenda in Washington. If he did nothing before his departure to allay our concerns about his decree and intent on electoral reform, he wouldn’t be able to talk about reintegration and reconciliation with Congress, with the media, or with anyone in Washington. Karzai said he wanted to speak in Washington about “civilian casualties” but then added the long-term, strategic partnership as well.
10. (S) Karzai appeared more attentive and Eikenberry went into greater detail. He said that the election is very important for us and that if Americans and our allies believe that Karzai is weakening in the building of democratic legitimacy in Afghanistan, our support inevitably will weaken. He urged Karzai to make and announce well before departing for Washington the needed changes regarding the Chair of the IEC, placing internationals on the ECC, and retaining internationals from UNAMA and ISAF as observers on the candidate vetting board (DIAG). He asked Karzai if he had anyone else in mind for the IEC Chair. Karzai said he did not and that he couldn’t make a “quick decision” about it. Eikenberry suggested that he could easily make an announcement prior to his visit to Washington about having accepted Ludin,s resignation and having begun a talent search for Ludin,s replacement. Karzai agreed that that was something he “could” do and said he would meet with Ludin on February 27.
11. (S) Eikenberry continued that Karzai could also announce before his trip that he would be appointing two internationals to the ECC to which Karzai, apparently confused about the law, said he could not make this announcement now, he could only form the ECC three months before the election date. The Ambassador told Karzai he was mistaken on this point (according to the new Presidential decree, the ECC must be established no later than three months before the election date. There is no injunction against establishing it earlier than that.) Karzai alleged that the ECC had tried to “steal the election” and had not performed well in the Provincial Council audits. Eikenberry replied that while the ECC had not performed perfectly, looking to the future with some high-quality international commissioners (such as Justice Kriegler) was very important.
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He added that the IEC had performed poorly, a point Karzai agreed with.
12. (S) He then asked Karzai to keep UNAMA and ISAF on the candidate vetting commission as observers. He pointed out that there are a lot of very bad actors who want political power and that it was always good to have impartial internationals available to be the ones drawing the line against those people. Karzai challenged the Ambassador on the grounds that the USG pays the contracts of some of these “bad actors” to which the Ambassador responded that while that was a fair point, it didn’t mean Karzai shouldn’t keep UNAMA on the candidate vetting commission.
13. (S) The Ambassador then pointed out to Karzai that the appointment of independent internationals on these electoral bodies could be helpful to Karzai politically: if Karzai appointed every official involved, he would be the one blamed entirely for an election which will certainly be flawed. Eikenberry noted again that this was Karzai’s legacy and would be judged by future generations, and then asked Karzai if he was really completely positive that Afghanistan and its institutions are strong enough to not need any foreigners playing any roles. Karzai ended the meeting by saying that Ludin had told him he wanted to step down. Eikenberry replied that that was good and once more pressed Karzai to ensure the ECC Commissioners are independent, reminding him that Karzai had separately told SRSG Eide and Eikenberry several weeks prior unambiguously that he would retain two foreigners on the ECC in accordance with a formula developed by Eide.
14. (S) Comment: We will continue our engagement over the next several days with key Karzai ministers supportive of pragmatic electoral reform, as well as with interested Parliamentarians. As noted above, Minister Zakhilwal told Ambassador Eikenberry he would rally like-minded ministers and attempt to reach a favorable outcome by Monday. The electoral reform issue provides a good test of the future potential and limits of Karzai as a partner. U.S. interests, the imperatives of Afghan-statebuilding, and Afghanistan’s long-term developmental interests will occasionally require Karzai to make difficult choices. This is such an instance. Also to be validated is his coterie of reform-minded ministers’ ability to adroitly manage Karzai behind closed doors as occurred during his decision to accept a second round in last fall’s election. A strong, empowered group of such ministers will be crucial to U.S.-Afghan success in the months ahead.
15. (U) Begin non-paper text:
President Karzai made a firm commitment at the London Conference to put in place meaningful electoral reforms which reflect lessons learned from 2009 and to ensure measures are in place to tackle the electoral abuses witnessed last year. Strengthening the independence of the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) is vital to ensuring that these institutions are impartial and effective.
The following three key measures are essential to ensuring the credibility of the Parliamentary electoral process and the success of the future Parliament, an institution integral to strengthening Afghanistan’s democracy. They are also measures that will enable the international community to convince their governments to help fund and otherwise support these and future elections.
— Replacing the IEC chair with an independent and qualified official
— Maintaining the integrity of the ECC through a combination of independent Afghans and international experts
— Establishing a strong candidate vetting process that involves the participation of both Afghans and the international community
The following key reforms would represent important steps towards constructive electoral reform that draw on the lessons learned in 2009:
— IEC staff committing or complicit in electoral offenses are dismissed
— IEC sessions are opened to accredited observers
— IEC-recommended fraud deterrence plans are implemented
— A comprehensive Ministry of Interior and IEC-endorsed security plan is established 60-90 days before the election
— Polling stations are announced at least 90 days before elections
— Conditions are in place to maximize the participation of
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women and vulnerable groups in elections, both as candidates and voters
— Domestic observers and political party agents are supported and their participation in election day activities is facilitated.
End non-paper text.
Document 2: Canadian ambassador expresses serious doubts about Karzai. In a February 2010 meeting with his US counterpart the Canadian ambassador, William Crosbie, said the international community cannot be part of another “rigged election” and must be “prepared for a confrontation with Karzai” over the issue.
Tuesday, 23 February 2010, 13:05
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 000672
DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM, INR/B
STATE PASS USAID FOR ASIA/SCAA
USFOR-A FOR POLAD
EO 12958 DECL: 02/23/2020
TAGS PGOV, KDEM, KCOR, PREL, MOPS, CAN, AF, PK
SUBJECT: ELECTIONS, KANDAHAR AND KARZAI
Classified By: Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d)
1. (C) Begin Summary. In a frank discussion, Canadian Ambassador Crosbie explained to Ambassador Eikenberry that getting the electoral process right is a bottom-line position for Canada, and said we must be prepared for confrontation with Karzai on this issue, or risk losing credibility among our own population if we go along with a rigged election. While accepting the need to seek electoral reform Ambassador Eikenberry cautioned that despite private statements, Afghans will not support a dominant international role, and that if we dig ourselves deeper into Afghan politics, we’ll entrench ourselves deeper into the country with fewer options. They also agreed that it would make sense to restructure the reporting relationship of the Kandahar PRT to have it report directly to Regional Command-South rather than the Canadian-led Task Force Kandahar to ensure coherence and integration of all civilians in Kandahar. They agreed that the jury is still out on whether current coalition efforts in the South will work, but if Karzai becomes more confident and the government has the space to focus on sustainable national governance, there will be progress. End Summary.
2. (C) Ambassador Eikenberry and Canadian Ambassador Bill Crosbie shared a frank exchange of views during a breakfast meeting at the U.S. Embassy on February 20. Ambassador Crosbie said that Canada is very concerned about the electoral reform process. He said they had not seen the copy of the final decree submitted to the Parliament on electoral reforms. Ambassador Eikenberry explained the key issues: conflicting Constitutional process issues (no action allowed the year of an election but requirement to act on emergency decrees within 30 days); the lack of a specific mention of an ISAF or coalition role in the vetting process; and the proposed formula of two of five ECC members being internationals appointed by UNAMA (either South African judge, Bangladeshi expert or Palestinian expert are the likely choices).
3. (C) Ambassador Crosbie told the Ambassador that getting this right is a bottom line issue for the Canadians. He was emotional, saying the issue “makes my blood boil,” as he described the Canadian view that the international community must stand up for the silent majority or be blamed for letting Karzai and his family establish across the country the system of patronage and control that exists in Kandahar. We must be prepared for confrontation with Karzai on this issue, he said, or risk losing credibility among our own population if we go along with a rigged election. He argued that a new generation of Afghans is working to run for Parliament and they are watching to see if the electoral changes will happen. “We can’t be seen to collude with it,” he said. He argued that we need to give the Afghans looking to make a difference space to speak out and be able to turn the course of their country.
4. (C) Ambassador Eikenberry questioned Canada’s assessment, noting that Afghans will not stand up publicly to support a dominant international role in their election process, regardless of what might be said privately. The reality, he said, is that leaders like Abdullah and Mirwais Yasini are not interested in reform but rather their own political interests and alliances in Parliament. He cautioned that if we dig ourselves deeper into Afghan politics, we’ll entrench ourselves deeper into the country with fewer options. We need to focus on what is “good enough” while still supporting key institutions.
5. (C) Crosbie conceded these points, but said we cannot go backwards in terms of the last election. Ambassador Eikenberry agreed, noting that having less Coalition/international ownership of the election is also a measure of progress. We need to focus, he said, on strategic options rather than being mired in Afghan politics. For example, increasing the competence and level of the ANA and ANP are clear priorities, and we must avoid losing the coming spring and summer mired in election reform issues. Ambassador Crosbie did not dispute this, but said that for Canada a red-line has to be ensuring improvements over the last election.
6. (C) Crosbie said we need to have a discussion in Kabul to complement work in Kandahar by the Canadians, the NATO ISAF
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RC-South Commander, and the Senior Civilian Representative for the South. He said we need to get discussion organized for addressing power brokers (Note: A discussion was started during a meeting held at the Canadian Embassy two weeks ago attended by Ambassador Wayne, the UK, Netherlands, Australia, and the NATO ISAF IJC. End Note.). The strategy, he said, must address how we manage malign actors and improve the management of contracts.
7. (C) They also discussed the proposals to realign the reporting structures of the Canadian-led PRT in Kandahar. Crosbie said that Canada is willing to be integrated into a new organization and won’t stand on form. He agreed with the objective to bring coherence and integration of all civilians in Kandahar. While he has not talked yet to Ottawa about these issues, he believes that the following changes will be acceptable: 1) Canada will continue to lead the PRT, with the U.S. serving in the Deputy role (co-leads don’t work, he said); 2) the PRT will report to RC-South as opposed to Task Force Kandahar; 3) civilians will report up the civilian chain, which they view at the RC-South level as the U.S. Senior Civilian Representative Frank Ruggiero — he proposed dual-hatting Ruggiero to be both a U.S. and ISAF SCR; 4) the Representative of Canada in Kandahar (RoCK) and the PRT head should be me Ambassador to Argentina will be the next senior Canadian and will be based at the PRT; and 5) Canada will place more civilians at the PRT to enhance integration, but he understands that the U.S. will lead the effort in certain areas/districts where U.S. resources are focused.
8. (C) Ambassador Eikenberry said he too was flexible on how to reorganize and believed that we have reasonable structures in the South and East. He also strongly endorsed the concept of RC-West and RC-North adopting the same model. While we’re putting a lot of resources in the South and East, he said, the system needs to work regardless of whether there is an American flag. It’s a mistake for NATO to see the Afghan issues only through the prism of the military; the SCR structures need to be enhanced. Ideally, the Spanish and Italians would create a regional SCR in the West, and the Scandinavians and Germans would create one in the North. He also encouraged Crosbie to consider placing Canadian civilians at Regional Platform-South. SCR Ruggiero would mix them into his staff, he said, which would ensure greater coordination. Crosbie promised to review this and thought it probably made sense. He also noted that additional Canadians will go to Kandahar in March to support the civ-mil planning activity underway for governance and development in the wake of the upcoming military operations in Kandahar.
Strategy in the South and Impact on Overall Effort
9. (C) Crosbie said that Canada is comfortable with the overall strategy in Kandahar, which envisions additional pressure and activity in Kandahar in April-May. He said the police mentoring by U.S. Army Military Police and Canadian police, who live and work with the ANP in their district police stations, has proved effective. This effort is contributing to the sense of Afghan authority expanding in the city, he said, although he noted that it is proving difficult in Dand district where there are continued IEDs and security issues. Still, there’s a sense we’re on the right path, he said.
10. (C) Ambassador Eikenberry noted that the efforts in Helmand and the troop surge generally are intended to reverse the malaise and enhance the confidence of the Afghan leaders. He recounted a recent meeting with Abdullah Abdullah in which he described his perceptions of better security from a year ago. The operation in Helmand, Abdullah said, is not yet getting the national effects but it could when the ANA and ANP officers return to their homes and share accounts of their operations. Similarly, Abdullah said that the security in Kunduz is much better than six months ago. The jury is still out on whether current coalition efforts will work, but if Karzai becomes more confident and the government has the space to focus on sustainable national governance, there will be progress. A key problem, though, is the limited human capacity in most ministries and at the provincial and district level, Ambassador Eikenberry said. He noted the Embassy is working on a cable to better outline the limits of Afghan (and even U.S.) capacity to accomplish the strategies we have laid out. For example, the Minister of Agriculture is really only about one-two staff deep and he relies heavily on foreign advisors.
11. (C) Crosbie agreed, citing the example of ANP literacy.
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We’re never going to make them literate but can make them “literate enough.” He cited two examples of progress: 1) in Kandahar, some police are starting to at least be able to read license plates when investigating cases; and 2) in a recent customs officer training, the officers at least acknowledged corruption exists and that it’s wrong, which he said is not the case in many third world countries. Crosbie said that we’ll win when the Afghans have confidence they can run this country, but we can’t get too dug into supporting Karzai; it’s critical we build support for others. Crosbie said he has a sinking feeling whether Karzai is actually in control, or whether it’s his brothers and other advisers who are running him.
12. (C) Ambassador Eikenberry agreed and said that while we support efforts to press him to be a more visible Commander and Chief and push him to get outside of the Palace, we need to avoid self-delusion that he is really stepping up to lead the country and embrace mutual strategic goals until he clearly does so of his own volition. As the meeting ended, Crosbie mentioned the former ANA senior command and former Kandahar Governor General Raufi (Note: He served as Governor from August 2008 – December 2008 before being sacked reportedly for taking on Karzai’s half brother and Kandahar powerbroker Ahmed Wali Karzai (AWK)) and noted that he would be a good person to use in a position of interest. Ambassador Eikenberry said he knew him and agreed he could contribute in a positive way.
Document 3: US complains about Karzai’s release of prisoners.
Thursday, 06 August 2009, 05:28
S E C R E T KABUL 002246
DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, SCA/A, INL, EUR/PRM, INR, OSD FOR
FLOURNOY, CENTCOM FOR CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICENT KABUL FOR
EO 12958 DECL: 08/01/2019
TAGS PREL, PGOV, MARR, AF
SUBJECT: COMPLAINTS TO GIROA ON PRE-TRIAL RELEASES AND
PARDONS OF NARCO-TRAFFICKERS
REF: REFTEL KABUL 02245
Classified By: DEPUTY AMBASSADOR FRANCIS J. RICCIARDONE FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)
1. (S) SUMMARY: On numerous occasions we have emphasized with Attorney General Aloko the need to end interventions by him and President Karzai, who both authorize the release of detainees pre-trial and allow dangerous individuals to go free or re-enter the battlefield without ever facing an Afghan court. On July 29th, Legal Adviser Harold Hongju Koh and Deputy Ambassador Frances Ricciardone demarched Attorney General Muhammad Ishaq Aloko about our concern over pre-trial releases and presidential pardons of narco-traffickers (Reftel Kabul 02245) In Spring 2008, Post had previous demarched National Security Advisor Rassoul about our concern over pre-trial releases. Despite our complaints and expressions of concern to the GIRoA, pre-trial releases continue. END SUMMARY
2. (S) Transfers from Bagram Theatre Internment Facility (BTIF) to the Afghan National Detention Facility (ANDF) began in Spring 2007. During that year, there was only one pre-trial release. In 2008, there were 104 pre-trial releases, almost all of which took place after President Karzai formed the Aloko Detainee Commission in April 2008. From January to March of 2009, there were 12 pre-trial releases; and 23 pre-trial releases between April and June 2009. So far in July 2009, there have been 10 pre-trial releases.
3. (S) An August 2005 exchange of diplomatic notes between the USG and the GIRoA provides the legal basis for the GIRoA,s detention and prosecution of detainees transferred into Afghan custody. Even though a multi-agency GIRoA delegation under the Aloko Detainee Commission screens all BTIF detainees who are transferred to the ANDF and assures the USG that these detainees will be prosecuted in an Afghan court, there have been 150 detainees released from the ANDF without trial since 2007, including 29 former Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) detainees. The total number of transfers to date from BTIF to ANDF is 629 detainees, plus 41 from GTMO.
PROTECTION OF NARCOTRAFFICKERS
4. (SBU) In April, President Karzai pardoned five border policemen who were caught with 124 kilograms of heroin in their border police vehicle. The policemen, who have come to be known as the Zahir Five,, were tried, convicted and sentenced to terms of 16 to 18 years each at the Central Narcotics Tribunal. But President Karzai pardoned all five of them on the grounds that they were distantly related to two individuals who had been martyred during the civil war.
5. (S) Separately, President Karzai tampered with the narcotics case of Haji Amanullah, whose father is a wealthy businessman and one of his supporters. Without any constitutional authority, Karzai ordered the police to conduct a second investigation which resulted in the conclusion that the defendant had been framed. Daudzai told DAMB he was ashamed,, of the president for his interference in this case and the case of the Zahir Five.
6. (S) In another case, a CJTF investigation concluded that 26 kilograms of heroin seized from a vehicle search belonged to Col. Jaweed, Chief of the Highway Police for Badakshan Province. Jaweed is the nephew of a powerful member of Parliament. Eventually, he was arrested and is currently serving in Pol-i-Charkhi prison. But, there is credible, but unconfirmed, intelligence indicating that President Karzai has signed a letter pardoning Jaweed that has not yet been delivered to the Supreme Court. Daudzai denied any significant pressure in this case.
7. (S) Unconfirmed intelligence also indicates that President Karzai is planning to release drug trafficker Ismal Safed, who is serving a 19-year sentence in Pol-i-Charkhi. Safed is a priority DEA target who was arrested in 2005 in possession of large quantities of heroin and a cache of weapons. In 2008, DEA conducted an operation in which an undercover officer purchased approximately three kilograms of heroin directly from Safed. Daudzai told the Deputy Ambassador that President Karzai will not pardon Safed, and that Post,s concerns about this case will reaffirm President Karzai,s decision not to interfere.
Document 4: Kazakh president’s concerns over ‘weak’ Karzai. In an early 2009 meeting between head of US Central Command General David Petraeus and the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev warns Petraeus that the Taliban must never be given a share of power in Afghanistan and he expresses doubts about Hamid Karzai’s capabilities.
Tuesday, 20 January 2009, 05:56
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000095
STATE FOR P, SCA/CEN, EUR/RUS, NEA/IR
EO 12958 DECL: 01/19/2029
TAGS PGOV, PREL, AF, IR, RS”>RS, KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: CENTCOM CDR PETRAEUS MEETS PRESIDENT
NAZARVAYEV, JANUARY 14
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland: 1.4 (B), (D)
1. (S) SUMMARY: President Nazarbayev told CENTCOM Commander General Petraeus:
— the situation in Afghanistan greatly worries him; the Taliban should never be allowed to become a coalition partner in the Afghan government;
— Iran cannot be allowed to become a nuclear state, but the United States needs to talk directly with Tehran, and he is willing to be helpful;
— Kazakhstan will never again be “colonized,” but has excellent relations with Russia and China
— the West has underestimated the depth of Russia’s wounded pride, but he is willing to be helpful if the Obama administration has “a wise response” to Russia. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) U.S. Central Command Commander General David Petraeus met with Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev on January 14 for twice the scheduled time, 70 minutes. The U.S. side included Major General Robert Allardice (CENTCOM J5), POLAD Michael Gfoeller, and the Ambassador (note taker). Security Council Secretary Kaibek Suleymenov, Presidential Foreign Policy Adviser Khairat Sarybay, and Magzhan Ilyassov of the presidential administration accompanied President Nazarbayev.
3. (S) General Petraeus thanked President Nazarbayev for the recent formal ratification of the long-existing over-flight and divert agreements, as well as for Kazakhstan’s willingness to participate in the Northern Distribution Network for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He briefed the president on Iraq and Afghanistan. Nazarbayev responded, “Afghanistan greatly worries us. I am often in touch with (Afghanistan President Hamid) Karzai. He says the situation is good and the economy is growing; but I know he controls only 30% of his territory, and if the Afghan economy is growing, it’s based on drugs. We are already providing humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, but we need better security in Afghanistan if we are to do more. The United States and Kazakhstan have a common interest in strengthening Afghanistan.” Nazarbayev said he knows Karzai wants to involve the Taliban in his government and commented, “That would be greatly dangerous.” General Petraeus explained that Karzai’s position is more nuanced: the goal would be to break up the Taliban and reconcile some, “but we have no illusion that Mullah Omar could ever join the government.” Nazarbayev replied, “If there’s a chance to break up the Taliban, that’s fine; but the Taliban leadership will never change its position.”
4. (S) Nazarbayev told General Petraeus, “You’re aware of Afghan history; no foreign country ever succeeded in invasion. Afghans have to govern themselves.” Calling the situation in Afghanistan “very complicated,” Nazarbayev said he knows some the potential candidates to succeed Karzai, but none of them could unify and lead Afghanistan. “Karzai is weak, but it’s better to keep him on.” Nazarbayev added he’s heard Karzai claim the Taliban are trained in Pakistan and said he accepts that as credible. Nazarbayev added Central Asia needs a common policy on Afghanistan, “but that hasn’t happened.” He alluded to Uzbekistan’s support for the ethnic Uzbek leader Dostum.
5. (S) Nazarbayev judged that Iran is a problem in the region, and General Petraeus fully agreed. Nazarbayev said, “I have good contacts among the leadership in Iran. I’ve tried to explain to them that Kazakhstan was once nuclear but
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fully gave up that status. I tell them it would be to their benefit to be non-nuclear. That would draw new assistance and investment.” General Petraeus said he again fully agreed with the president, but noted Iran’s policy is determined by the Revolutional Guard al-Quds Force commander, not by President Ahmedinejad or the Foreign Ministry. Nazarbayev noted he had once talked to Ahmedinejad for two and a half hours about such issues, “but in the end I realized I had just wasted my time.” He said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameni told him that even if Iran compromises on the nuclear issue, the United States would always find another reason to criticize “because they hate us — all the United States wants is to conquer the entire region and steal the oil.” General Petraeus interjected, “We could have bought all the oil in the region for 100 years for what we’ve spent in Iraq!” Nazarbayev, looking a bit amused, said, “I know. I’m just telling you what he said.” Without specifying his interlocutor, Nazarbayev said he’d asked if Tehran is willing to talk to the United States, “and they said yes. I conveyed this to President-elect Obama during our (post-U.S. election) phone call.” General Petraeus commented the United States had had three rounds of talks with Iran about Iraq but had gotten nowhere. Nazarbayev said, “I have no illusion U.S. negotiations with Iran would be easy or fast, but we cannot let Iran have nuclear weapons. I want to be helpful with Iran.”
6. (S) Nazarbayev added he has discussed Iran’s nuclear ambitions with Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin: “I emphasize to them a nuclear Iran is in no one’s interests.” General Petraeus responded that it’s important to get Russia to be helpful with Iran: “They seem conflicted. Sometimes they help; sometimes they send weapons.” Nazarbayev said, “I told Obama that he has a good chance to have good relations with Mevedev. That’s important for us, too, since Russia and Kazakhstan are neighbors.”
7. (S) General Petraeus told President Nazarbayev Kazakhstan’s special relationship with Russia is not a problem for the United States. “It’s not a zero-sum game for us. You can have good relations with Russia and China as well as with us.” Nazarbayev said he fully agreed, adding, “I tell Russia and China we have our own resources. We are Kazakhs. We were colonized for over 500 years, first by the Golden Horde, then by the western Chinese, then by Russia. We’ve been independent for only 17 years, and we do not want to be colonized again. We will never be ‘under’ Russia or China. We have enough resources and a reasonably educated population to make our own choices. We want stability, development, and cooperation. We all have to have Russia ‘inside the tent.’ I’d like the United States and the European Union to help with this.”
8. (S) Nazarbayev said the West had made real mistakes after the collapse of the Soviet Union by not treating Yeltsin with respect. He said Yeltsin had once gone to the NATO-Russia Council where he had been “teased.” Nazarbayev explained Russia has great, but now injured, pride. It was once a great empire, and Russian soldiers had played a large role in winning the Great Patriotic War (WW II), but the West seems to refuse to understand this. For Russia, maintained Nazarbayev, “face” is everything. Nazarbayev said he had frequently told President Medvedev that being an energy superpower is not enough; it’s essential to develop international leadership with a spirit of cooperation. Nazarbayev said Medvedev was “almost there,” but then the “Georgia mistake happened.” Nazarbayev concluded, “If the new U.S. administration has a wise response to Russia, I’d be glad to help” with the relationship.
9. (S) NOTE: While waiting for Nazarbayev to enter the meeting room, General Petraeus ask Foreign Policy Adviser Sarybay why Kazakhstan had moved its capital from Almaty to
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Astana. Sarybay answered, “There are probably 20 different reasons people give. In fact, in the first few years of independence, several maps appeared that made our northern border unclear, and so the President ‘planted the flag.'” This is the first time we are aware that a senior official has confirmed Nazarbayev moved his capital to prevent Russian nationalists from annexing the northern third of Kazakhstan, which hotheads, including some in the Duma at that time, claimed was historically part of Russia. END NOTE.
10. (S) COMMENT: Nazarbayev looked as fit as ever and was very well-briefed, discussing details of the U.S.-Kazakhstan military relationship without notes. He was not shy that he sees himself as an international statesman. We know he was genuinely pleased with President-elect Obama’s telephone call, and we judge his offers to be helpful for the United States with Iran and Russia are genuine. END COMMENT.
11. (U) General Petraeus has cleared this cable.
Document 5: UK ‘not up to task’ of securing Helmand, says US. A cable from American officials in Afghanistan outlines the security situation in the country. The analysis says that the south and east pose the biggest problems, with agreement between the Americans and the Afghans that the British are not capable of securing Helmand.
Tuesday, 09 December 2008, 03:21
S E C R E T KABUL 003176
STATE FOR SCA FOR A/S BOUCHER AND PMOON
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/CDHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SECRETARY GATES, USDP EDELMAN AND WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CJTF-82 AND POLAD
EO 12958 DECL: 12/08/2018
TAGS PGOV, PREL, PTER, AFIN
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR DECEMBER 10-11, 2008 VISIT TO
AFGHANISTAN BY SECDEF ROBERT M. GATES
Classified By: Acting DCM Valerie C. Fowler for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)
1. (C) Embassy Kabul warmly welcomes your visit to Afghanistan. The overall state of the security situation here is more nuanced than the negative drumbeat coming from the media. Steady advances in success by Coalition and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) do not grab the headlines that a spectacular suicide attack does. Progress in development in support of a balanced COIN strategy continues below the radar screen. Those achievements, however, are hindered and ultimately threatened by poor performance on the governance front.
The Fundamental Challenge of Governance
2. (C) Karzai is at the center of the governance challenge. He has failed to overcome his fundamental leadership deficiencies in decisiveness and in confidence to delegate authority to competent subordinates. The result: a cycle of overwork/fatigue/indecision on the part of Karzai, and gridlock and a sense of drift among senior officials on nearly all critical policy decisions.
3. (C) Karzai struggles with striking the correct balance between institutional and traditional (i.e. tribal) governance. In fairness, there are no easy answers. He has given a notional nod to General McKiernan,s proposal to support formal agreements between Afghan authorities and district-level councils. The latter would be responsible for certain governance and security functions in their districts. This proposal is aimed at ensuring freedom of travel along the Ring Road, the lack of which undermines public confidence in the Afghan government and in the international community’s efforts. Some questions remain on how to ensure district security arrangements do not create independent local militias.
4. (SBU) Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) Director Popal has earned and maintains Karzai,s backing to improve sub-national governance. Popal has launched the Afghan Social Outreach Program (ASOP), to form local councils (separate from McKiernan,s plan) to strengthen ties between sub-national institutional government and the tribes. We will be one of the largest donors to this new and ambitious plan, providing $6 million for ASOP in three provinces.
5. (C) Next year,s presidential and provincial council elections will be the defining event for 2009. Election factors already dominate nearly everything political here. Karzai,s popularity has fallen through the floor, but the absence of a credible opponent means it is still Karzai,s election to lose. Public ill ease over personal (not national) insecurity and disgust over unconstrained corruption are Karzai,s greatest vulnerabilities. He installed Hanif Atmar as Interior Minister to turn up the heat on both problems. Atmar is talented and may turn around perceptions, but after seven years of unmet expectations Afghans will be hard to convince.
6. (C) Politicians and the Kabul punditry are fascinated with the political jockeying between Parliament and the Independent Election Commission (IEC) over the election date. In the end, we expect all will agree to the IEC,s proposal for an August vote, based on security and logistical reasons.
7. (C) More problematic is the insecurity in the south and east, which is prompting some ) including Karzai, other Pashtuns and some RC-South partners ) to raise the specter of Pashtun disenfranchisement and the possible illegitimacy of the vote. It is much too early to judge the prospects of failure. We and Karzai agree the British are not up to the task of securing Helmand, but we also think the expected arrival of additional U.S. combat brigades this spring and summer, in tandem with the constant flow of newly-minted Afghan troops to the field will provide an adequately secure environment for the election.
8. (C) Karzai’s senior-level Taliban reconciliation initiative is more about strengthening his political base and his relationship with the Saudis than anything else. “Negotiations” have been much less tangible in reality than is depicted in the press. The public is split: many welcome the promise (whether real or not) of reduced violence and instability via a possible reconciliation with the Taliban, while others (mainly non-Pashtuns, women, and certain civil society groups) fear a Karzai backroom deal that could harm their political interests or set back hard-fought human rights advances. We have advised Karzai to negotiate from a position of strength and to restate our shared &red lines.8
Karzai and civilian casualties
9. (C) Karzai’s recent heated public statements about “bringing down NATO aircraft” and timelines for coalition withdrawal reflect both deep and heartfelt anger, as well as a certain amount of elections grandstanding. Civilian casualties anger him most. General McKiernan has directed substantial changes to coalition tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs), but those cannot eliminate the possibility of civilian casualties, especially when the Taliban has clearly adopted “human shield” tactics. ISAF and the Embassy work increasingly more effectively with Afghan counterparts on improved post-incident response (to affected communities and the media), and investigations.
10. (C) Karzai hears of these efforts, but is not mollified. You can address his upset by acknowledging the problem and recognizing such mistakes hurt us all. In the months since the Shindand incident, and specifically as a response to civilian casualties, the Afghans have drafted a technical framework agreement on security measures, as a means to exert greater control over coalition operations. The Ambassador told Spanta that Washington cannot take this up until after the new Administration is in place, a point you should underscore with Karzai.
Steps to Improve Security
11. (C) The Coalition and Afghan security forces have increased our area of control and taken the fight to the Taliban, with increasing effectiveness. The Taliban response has been a forced shift in tactics from insurgency to terrorism to challenge the will of Afghans and the international community. Taliban acts of violence are highly visible and the immediate effect is that ordinary Afghans do feel less safe with random violence – particularly kidnappings – on the rise, and travel around the country more insecure. Atmar is countering, by looking to accelerate reform of the police. We are supporting him. The Focused District Development (FDD) program to retrain and equip the police is going well and will broaden to include the Border Police. Nonetheless, professionalizing the Afghan National Police (ANP) and reforming the Ministry of Interior are ongoing challenges. We also are working with the IDLG, NDS, and the Ministry of Defense to engage community support for security along the highways.
12. (C) Our greatest success on the security side is the advances in numbers and capabilities in the Afghan army. The army is the most trusted governmental entity, and is currently leading more than 60 percent of joint military operations. The International Community recently agreed to support the expansion of the army force structure to 134,000 (which includes a 12,000-troop trainee, transient, patient “float”). Army expansion will help meet future security requirements and take some of the pressure off of the police to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The principal challenge for both the army and police training program is a shortage of trainers, either from the U.S. or Allied nations. Karzai recognizes and is grateful for the central role of U.S. security assistance in developing the Afghan security forces. He will welcome reaffirmation of our support for eventual Afghan self-sufficiency and independence in the security and law enforcement fields; however, the army will continue to depend for some years on Coalition enablers such as close air support and intelligence assets.
Survey of Security in Afghanistan by Region
13. (SBU) RC-East remains focused on a balanced COIN approach synchronizing operations to protect the populace and push the insurgents out while pursuing mutually reinforcing efforts in development and governance assistance; the Embassy, USAID and CJTF-101 are coordinating more closely than ever USG efforts in RC-East. The Commanders, Emergency Response Program (CERP) funding is critical to delivering quick, effective assistance projects, which, in coordination with USAID and local officials, supports both locally identified needs and longer term development goals. In RC-South, the number and lethality of IED attacks is up dramatically; significantly, in some areas the number of IEDs reported by the public to ANSF or ISAF forces is also up, reflecting public support for the Government. The approximately 2300 Marines of the recently departed 24th MEU carried out successful operations in the Garmsir District in Helmand. The insertion of other U.S. forces into the South could have a positive impact on Karzai,s confidence and quiet concerns about whether the presidential election can be safely held.
14. (SBU) RC-West and RC-North remain relatively quiet, although RC-West has become less stable in the past few months. A rash of kidnappings in Herat, combined with a series of insurgent attacks, including at least one that upset public access to basic needs, had resulted in a widespread lack of confidence in local governance. The GIRoA apparently recognized the danger of leaving this key region that borders Iran (and will eventually be linked to Khaf, Iran by rail service) open to growing insurgent movements and the appeal of a parallel source of governance. MoI Minister Atmar has just sacked a number of senior security officials in Herat in response to this popular unrest.
15. (S) There,s been a sea change in bilateral ties since Musharraf,s exit. Karzai and Zardari have warm relations, which has spread to other parts of the bilateral civilian-side relationship. We also see promising signs of cooperation on the security side ) increased coordination and communication between the respective security forces along certain parts of the border, and a November meeting in Islamabad between NDS Director Saleh and ISI Director General Pasha. The two governments also convened a largely symbolic but positive &mini-jirga8 meeting in October. Continuing – though reduced – infiltration from the FATA and the recent Mumbai attacks have done little, however, to diminish Afghanistan,s ongoing distrust of the Pakistan Army and conviction that ISI is supporting rather than countering terrorism.
16. (U) We very much look forward to your visit.
Document 6: Allies’ praise for Helmand governor. In a glowing 2008 report about Gulab Mangal the recently appointed new governor of Helmand is praised for regularly meeting traders in the bazaars of Lashkar Gah and his ‘determination to improve Helmand’s provincial government’.
Monday, 26 May 2008, 05:48
UNCLAS KABUL 001275
DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS, EUR/RPM
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-101 POLAD
EO 12958 N/A
TAGS PREL, PGOV, AF
SUBJECT: PRT LASHKAR GAH, HELMAND PROVINCE: GOVERNOR MANGAL TAKES CHARGE
1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Governor Mangal’s first two months in Helmand have been productive, building solid support for his administration. His public outreach efforts are excellent, and he continues to meet regularly with residents of Lashkar Gah and the tribal and civil leadership of Helmand. Mangal has an impressive understanding of government operations and is pushing his provincial ministry directors to improve their planning and implementation capacity and to take charge of reconstruction and development efforts. He has an effective working relationship with the British-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), and Afghan security forces have responded well to his leadership. During a May 24 dinner, which included senior Afghan government officials, visiting British Secretary of State for Defense Des Browne registered HMG’s strong support for the Helmand governor. Mangal’s experience and determination to improve Helmand’s provincial government sends a strong signal to area residents that the Afghan government can be effective.
2. (SBU) Upon his arrival in Helmand, Governor Mangal immediately focused on improving the performance of the provincial government. He has pushed provincial ministry directors to improve their operations and is personally reviewing the capacity of each director. Mangal chaired his first Helmand Provincial Development Committee on May 20 and was not pleased with the directors’ reports. He told the directors to coordinate all government, NGO and international development activities within their areas of responsibility. The fight against corruption is a primary goal of his administration; he called for their support in eliminating it. Mangal told PRT officers that some local officials enjoy political or family connections and their removal from office will be difficult; however, with sufficient proof of non-performance, changes can be made in Helmand’s provincial government.
3. (SBU) Public outreach is a key part of Mangal’s efforts to bring the government closer to the people. He makes a point of traveling around Lashkar Gah and makes regular visits to the city bazaars to speak with the merchants and shoppers. In conjunction with the Ministry of Information and Culture, he organized a Public Poetry Festival in Lashkar Gah on May 15. The event took place at the women’s park with several thousand people in attendance. Mangal delivered the opening address and called upon the audience to help promote a better image of Helmand, and to work with him to attract business, visitors and investments to the province. Residents were pleased by this effort and Mangal’s support among the populace is growing.
4. (SBU) Mangal has established an effective relationship with the PRT, which has provided him with expanded internet service, computers and office furniture to improve his office’s capacity. Mangal told the PRT additional investment in government infrastructure is required in Lashkar Gah and the District Centers to reestablish the government across Helmand. His relationship with the security leadership is good, and he participates in weekly security briefings from Afghan and UK security forces. He occasionally maintains longer office hours to meet additional guests and build better ties across the province.
5. (SBU) Mangal’s first two months in Helmand have been impressive. The provincial government is coming to life and he is pushing ministry directors to produce results. Residents of Lashkar Gah readily express support for Mangal and his efforts and have high hopes he can continue to improve the functions of Helmand’s government.
Document 7: Gordon Brown urges Karzai not to replace Helmand governor. In a cable marked not for foreign eyes, a British diplomat reveals to the Americans details of Gordon Brown’s August 2008 trip to Helmand. Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand highly thought of by the British and the Americans, tells Brown that Hamid Karzai is trying to replace him. Brown lobbies Karzai to keep Mangal, warning that Karzai’s preferred governor, Sher Mohammad Akhundzada, is not acceptable ‘given his history of corruption and involvement in drug trafficking’.
Friday, 22 August 2008, 15:03
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002181
DEPT FOR EUR/WE, SCA/A; NSC FOR BRADLEY
EO 12958 DECL: 08/22/2018
TAGS PREL, MARR, PTER, AF, UK
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN: BROWN URGES KARZAI TO KEEP HELMAND
GOVERNOR; PRAISES UNSYG REP
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Greg Berry for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C/NF) During what was described by FCO Afghanistan Desk Officer Tom Burns as a mainly “morale boosting” trip to Afghanistan on August 21, Prime Minister Gordon Brown met with UK and Afghan military commanders and Governor Mangal in Helmand, and with President Karzai and UNSYG Special Representative Kai Eide in Kabul. Mangal confided to Brown, who was accompanied by Foreign Policy Advisor Simon McDonald, that he was worried about job security given that others close to Karzai, including former Helmand governor Sher Muhammed Akhunzada, were plotting against him and encouraging Karzai to replace him with Akhunzada. Burns said that in Kabul Brown took up Mangal’s cause, telling Karzai that Mangal enjoyed the UK’s confidence and that Akhunzada was not an acceptable alternative, given his history of corruption and involvement in drug trafficking. UK Ambassador Sherard Cowper-Cowles will continue to push Mangal’s case with Karzai.
2. (C/NF) Brown reportedly emphasized to Karzai that the security assessments he had received from British and Afghan commanders in Helmand were more positive in tone than those Karzai may have been receiving from his political advisors. The general view from the military in Helmand, Brown told Karzai, was that security overall in the province was improving, but that major roads were still very dangerous given the increase in insurgent use of IEDs and suicide bombers. Karzai and Brown spent a significant portion of their meeting talking about the situation in Pakistan and the September 6 presidential elections. Karzai is reportedly “warm” on PPP leader Zardari but encouraged the U.S. and UK to “open channels” to PML leader Nawaz Sharif. Karzai averred that given the increase in AQ training activity on the Pakistan side of the border, Pakistan is actually a more violent country than Afghanistan.
Meeting with UNSYG Representative Eide
3. (C/NF) Brown spent an hour with UNSYG Special Representative Kai Eide, who expressed concern over slow progress on the security situation, which was impeding development, particularly in the south, and the lack of Afghan capacity to absorb what aid was getting through. He was also worried about diminishing support for Karzai in the government and population in general, and complained that Karzai was incapable of making the “tough decisions.” Eide suggested that he, Cowper-Cowles and Ambassador Wood work together to keep the pressure on Karzai. Eide also cautioned against working too closely and directly with tribal leaders, as this may undermine Karzai/central government authority and credibility. Brown praised the coordinating work Eide had undertaken thus far, and pledged continued UK support for his mission.
Cabinet Office Readout
4. (C/NF) In a subsequent conversation with the Cabinet Office’s Afghan Officer Helen Evans, she echoed the FCO readout, but stressed that the Prime Minister’s statements while on the ground about the UK commitment to support ANA training were “a general statement of intent” not a specific pledge of additional UK military and financial resources at this time. Brown received a useful briefing from the AFSouth commander, who gave the PM a “half-glass full, half empty,” overview of the situation, according to Evans. The commander described how security is improving in the region overall, but the lack of security along transport routes makes it difficult to build on the security improvements. Brown also heard from several interlocutors that the road security situation could affect the ability to hold credible elections.
5. (C/NF) Brown’s traveling party was struck by UNSYG Eide’s downbeat assessment of the Afghan leadership, including Karzai, according to Evans. Eide raised whether the UK and U.S. Governments should be working to find a new chief of staff for Karzai, an issue that Brown later took up with the UK Embassy in Kabul. Eide also raised with Brown concerns about the humanitarian situation developing as a result of the current drought, which has affected nearly all of the country.
LONDON 00002181 002 OF 002
Visit London’s Classified Website: http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:United_Kingdom
Document 8: Miliband asks Karzai to reassure British public about the Afghan ‘project’. In an early 2009 meeting between head of US Central Command General David Petraeus and the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev warns Petraeus that the Taliban must never be given a share of power in Afghanistan and he expresses doubts about Hamid Karzai’s capabilities.
Friday, 28 November 2008, 15:46
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LONDON 002964
DEPT FOR EUR/WE AND SCA/A
EO 12958 DECL: 11/28/2018
TAGS PREL, PGOV, MARR, PTER, AF, UK
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN: PRESIDENT KARZAI NOT CONFIDENT ON
ELECTIONS; CLAIMS FINANCIAL RESERVES “BEST IN WORLD”
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Greg Berry for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).
1. (C/NF) Summary: During a November 25 meeting in Kabul, Afghan President Karzai told FS Miliband that it would be difficult or impossible to hold a credible Presidential election. He said that Afghanistan’s USD 13.4b of reserves, were the &best in the world.” Miliband commented to Karzai that, after seven years, it was important to offer a perspective on how all expected the conflict to end. Reconciliation, subject to strict conditions, would obviously be part of that. Karzai had had a good talk with Pakistan President Zardari November 24 and was looking forward to him paying a state visit in December. He was concerned that the failure to act quickly on police issues had undermined the trust which the Afghan people had in their government and in the international community. Miliband noted that the UK was determined to work with Helmand Governor Mangal, and to give him support in engaging with the tribes. He emphasized the need to maximize the advantages which the arrival of more U.S. troops would bring. End Summary
2. (C/NF) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, Miliband saw Karzai for about an hour in Kabul on November 25, with Foreign Minister Spanta, National Security Advisor Rassoul , Chief of Staff Daudzai, and Spokesperson Hamidzada present on the Afghan side. UK Ambassador Cowper-Coles joined Miliband.
3. (C/NF) Karzai told Miliband that it would be difficult or impossible to hold a credible Presidential election, not just in Helmand, but also in the provinces of Zabul, Farah, Kandahar and Ghazni. Although Zabul was small, in many ways it was as difficult as Helmand. That made a spring date proposed by the Parliament impossible. Karzai was confident that early agreement on a date would be reached.
4. (C/NF) Karzai related to Miliband that President-elect Obama had been “very supportive, very committed8 during their telephone conversation the previous week. He said Obama had promised to send a team to Afghanistan soon after the inauguration. Karzai noted that his government was preparing three papers for the U.S. and the international community on security, governance, and economic issues. The security paper had already been sent to the U.S. It covered civilian casualties, and ending house searches and arbitrary arrests of Afghans by coalition forces. Karzai instructed Rassoul to see that the paper was also sent to &NATO headquarters8.
5. (C/NF) Karzai told Miliband that the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) were in the course of preparing a paper which would call for an end to parallel structures. He said that Afghanistan’s USD 13.4b of reserves were the &best in the world8. The paper on economic issues would be for the Americans alone and would deal with some of the abuses to which their aid was subject. In particular, Afghanistan wanted to end the way in which the Americans sub-contracted major parts of their aid program to “doubtful contractors.” He was also concerned that many of the private security companies were little more than “criminal organizations.” The same applied to some of the transport companies used by the U.S.; it had become apparent to Karzai that the transport companies were responsible for much of the insecurity on the highways, in order to extract higher fees and insurance payments from the Americans.
6. (C/NF) Miliband commented to Karzai that, after seven years, it was important to offer a perspective on how all expected the conflict to end. Reconciliation, subject to strict conditions, would obviously be part of that. Karzai agreed, saying that he had consulted &the whole Afghan people,8 and they were all in favor of reconciliation. They wanted to “bring over the good guys, while excluding the bad guys.” Karzai realizes that the U.S., Russia and Iran had doubts about reconciliation, but this was something that the Afghan people wanted, and which he was bound to press ahead
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7. (C/NF) Miliband welcomed the warm relations between Karzai and Zardari, and spoke of the need to extend that relationship into other areas, and systemize it. It would be important to underpin contacts at the highest level with a clear work plan, and timeframe, for practical contacts at other levels. The Pakistanis were now fighting the Taleban, Miliband continued, and needed to be encouraged and supported in this. The UK stood ready to help in any way it could with the Af/Pak relationship. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that Karzai welcomed all this. He had had a good talk with Zardari November 24 and was looking forward to him paying a state visit in December. Karzai opined that Pakistan wanted to cooperate with Afghanistan, without the Americans being involved. Spanta explained that there were three levels to Af/Pak cooperation: bilateral, trilateral and multilateral. Miliband added that Zardari seemed genuinely committed to tackling terrorism, and to working with Afghanistan, and seemed gradually to be extending his control over other parts of the Pakistani state, including the military. Karzai expressed skepticism about how far Zardari,s writ yet ran, but said that he hoped the UK would get involved energetically in supporting Af/Pak cooperation.
AFGHAN INTERNAL ISSUES
8. (C/NF) Miliband welcomed Interior Minister Atmar,s appointment , and said that the UK would give him “every support, ” which Karzai welcomed, noting that he had given Atmar a &blank check8 to deal with corruption. His only advice to Atmar had been to maintain the ethnic balance in the Interior Ministry. Miliband also welcomed the dismissal, for corruption, of the Transport Minister. Karzai said that he had had no option, but it had been a “regrettable step.”
9. (C/NF) Miliband noted recent improvements in the ANA, and the fact that the units in Helmand had reached “Capability Milestone One,” but progress on the ANA had not been matched by progress on policing. Karzai agreed, saying that the failure to reform the Afghan Police (ANP) had been the fault of “Afghanistan’s friends.” Karzai underlined that the international community had at last realized what needed to be done on the police, and said he was concerned that the failure to act quickly had undermined the trust which the Afghan people had in their government and in the international community.
10. (C/NF) Karzai said that political outreach needed to start at village level, and extend through the district and provincial levels. Communities needed to be re-empowered, in the name of the war on terror. Those communities had been damaged by the Soviet invasion, and by radicalization, much of it paid for by the West. The IDLG was now trying to address this. Karzai added that he had replaced all but five or six governors. He was also busy signing new appointments of district governors. Miliband noted that the UK had agreed to support the Afghan Social Outreach Program in three districts in Helmand. Karzai said that he was a “greedy man” in respect to Helmand; he wanted the whole province to benefit. Miliband added that the UK was determined to work with Helmand Governor Mangal, and to give him support in engaging with the tribes. He emphasized the need to maximize the advantages which the arrival of more U.S. troops would bring.
11. (C/NF) Karzai emphasized that more U.S. troops were not the answer. He hoped the Americans would consult the Afghan Government before sending more troops. Karzai said that the U.S. had failed to send the troops for which Karzai had asked in 2002, but now it might be too late. He hoped the ANA and coalition forces would cooperate more closely, and that the increase in the ANA could be delivered much sooner than 2012. The ground in the east was well covered, but there were not enough troops in other parts of the country. According to Karzai, the Afghan population did not want more foreign troops at this stage.
12. (C/NF) Miliband ended the meeting by underlining that
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the UK public needed reassuring about the “Afghanistan project.” Karzai,s own prestige in Britain meant that he was uniquely well placed to do this. Miliband hoped therefore that Karzai would consider writing an open letter to the British people. Cowper-Coles promised to follow up on this with Karzai,s spokesman.
SOUTH WITH SPANTA
13. (C/NF) After the meeting with Karzai, Miliband and Spanta flew to Camp Bastion. During the flight Spanta emphasized to Miliband the need to address the suspicions which the Afghan people still had of Britain. He also lobbied for the UK to do more with ethnic groups other than Pashtuns (Comment: Spanta is a Tajik. End comment). Spanta suggested that the UK should engage with the universities in Heart and Mazar-e-Sharif, and have a much higher profile among Tajiks. Britain was suspected among many in Afghanistan of having a pro-Pashtun policy. Spanta also argued for Britain to do more to help restore the electricity supply to Kabul. Minister of Energy Ismael Khan needed USD 42m to address Kabul,s energy problems.
14. (C/NF) Miliband and Spanta carried out three engagements in Helmand: a visit to Garmsir, to review progress since its liberation from the Taleban earlier in the year; a visit to Lashkar Gah, to meet the Governor Mangal and other provincial notables; and a visit to the ANA training camp at Camp Shorabak, adjacent to Camp Bastion.
15. (C/NF) In Garmsir, Miliband was received by the District Chief, Abdullah Jan, and gained a variety of insights into &good enough8 governance, Afghan-style. A large number of local elders turned out, at virtually no notice, and then accompanied Miliband and Spanta on a walkabout through the bazaar, during which Miliband bought locally-produced pomegranates. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, none of this would have been possible only a few months ago and is a reflection of the improving security situation. Miliband and Spanta also reviewed and met troops of the ANA, and of the Queen,s Dragoon Guards and 1 Rifles, the latter the lead unit for mentoring the ANA in Helmand.
16. (C/NF) In Lashkar Gah, Miliband assured Mangal of continuing UK support. Mangal spoke of his many achievements, and expressed gratitude for support from HMG. During a joint press conference, Spanta voiced strong support for Mangal, which XXXXXXXXXXXX considers a significant sign of Karzai’s personal stake in seeing Spanta succeed in Helmand.
Visit London’s Classified Website: http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Unit ed_Kingdom
Document 9: Karzai’s attempt to appoint ‘known warlord and criminal’. In a meeting with the US Ambassador the governor of Helmand, Gulab Mangal, gives a generally optimistic picture of steady improvements being made in his province. However, he expressed reservations about the effectiveness of British soldiers, in particular the failure to make headway in Sangin. Mangal said Karzai tried to replace him with a known drug trafficker just three months after Mangal’s appointment to Helmand which led to a heated conversation between the two men.
Saturday, 27 June 2009, 11:46
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 001677
STATE FOR S/RAP HOLBROOKE, SCA/FO, SCA/A
STATE PASS USAID
EO 12958 DECL: 06/16/2019
TAGS PGOV, PREL, AF
SUBJECT: HELMAND GOVERNOR MANGAL UPBEAT, HOPEFUL IN MEETING
Classified By: Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry for reasons 1.4 (b) and (c )
1. (U) Helmand Governor Gulabuddin Mangal was upbeat, yet realistic during a June 16 call on Ambassador Eikenberry at the U.S. Embassy. The Ambassador gave Mangal a set of photos taken during last month’s grand opening of the Bost Commercial Airfield in Helmand. Mangal thanked the Ambassador and promised to share the photos with Helmand leaders. Mangal said many Helmandi leaders had sent messages of support for the Ambassador’s speech, and that local media had rebroadcast the speech several times. The Ambassador was encouraged by this news, telling Mangal that he wrote the speech himself based on both his knowledge of the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and his desire to bolster the confidence of Helmand’s residents in the United States and the international community.
2. (SBU) Mangal offered a brief overview of the security situation in Helmand since he was appointed in early 2008, describing security throughout the province as bad, and pointing specifically to the complete lack of security in provincial capital Lashkar Gah. He said fear among Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), both the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP), led them to fire shots randomly in the streets. He added there was a complete lack of coordination with coalition forces. Mangal said narcotics traffickers operating with impunity lived within 100 meters of the police station in the capital. Mangal’s arrest of these characters was met with strong resistance from the local Chief of Police and National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief, who had warned him that taking on drug traffickers was too dangerous. Mangal said he proceeded anyway, because he “knew that they were not stronger than the law.” Mangal admitted that the crackdown on narcotics traffickers in the city had created problems, and that his effectiveness as governor has suffered because of it. Nevertheless, he said he would never give up on maintaining security – and by extension – prosperity, in Helmand. Mangal also said coordination between ANSF and NATO forces had improved greatly under his watch. He reported a good relationship with RC-South Deputy Commanding General Nicholson, and said he senses commitment from the United States to continuing coordination against drug trafficking. Mangal thanked the United States for its continuing counter narcotics support.
3. (SBU) Mangal spoke of the success of the Food Zone Program, which he hopes will be renewed for a second year. He reported he has achieved buy-in from many community leaders, including the line minister of health, tribal elders, and religious leaders, who issued a fatwah reminding Helmandis that drugs are prohibited in Islam. He also touted his public awareness campaign, which has included posters telling youth of the dangers of drugs, and informing farmers of alternative livelihood options. Mangal assured the Ambassador that poppy production would fall to zero this year.
4. (C/NF) Mangal reminded the Ambassador that five districts in Helmand are currently under control of enemy forces. He expressed hope that those would soon be under GIRoA control, with help from the incoming Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB). He recalled successful Marine operations in Garmsir last year, which is now a secure district, and said elders at Bost were very complementary about the U.S. efforts. However, when the Ambassador asked him to assess the British, Mangal said people are not optimistic. Mangal stressed he admires British sacrifices and what they have done, but that the public is not happy because of unfulfilled goals. Mangal said Sangin district looks like a “military compound” due to the high number of UK troops, and opined this should not be necessary to maintain security there. He also complained that the UK has done nothing to advance reconstruction goals in the province. He qualified these observations by saying that he admires the new techniques of British special forces and hoped they would “change everything” by continuing to fight narcotics traffickers.
5. (C) Referring to the successful counter narcotics operation at Marja last month, Mangal told the Ambassador that some people had misinformed President Karzai. (Note: Mangal was referring to tribal leaders who reportedly misinformed Karzai that the operation had resulted in civilian casualties, rather than supporting the success of the operation. End note). Mangal proudly said he told
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Karzai directly that the operation had targeted enemies and accomplished a major success. He also said civilian casualties had, in fact occurred, but not as many as Karzai’s friends reported. Mangal said Karzai’s friends – of which there are many in Helmand, Kandahar and Urugzan – often tell him the “wrong things.”
6. (C) Mangal at first deflected the Ambassador’s inquiry on the status of his relationship with Karzai, saying only that “I am working hard at doing my job.” He added that Karzai had attempted to replace him with Sher Mohammed Akhunzada, a known warlord and criminal, only three months after Mangal’s appointment last year. Mangal described a discussion he had with Karzai at the time, in which he said to Karzai “If you trust me, you must give me three more months to prove myself.” Karzai, according to Mangal, backed down, telling Mangal his anger was really directed at British Forces. Mangal opined that Karzai remains jealous of his good relationship with ISAF and coalition forces, but recognizes that Mangal is the best pick to make progress in Helmand. Mangal admitted that his relationship with Karzai has suffered since he was governor of Laghman. The Ambassador said the fact that Karzai assigned Mangal to such an important province was a signal of confidence and trust, but recognized that tensions would always exist due to Karzai’s personal connections. The Ambassador said he can see Mangal’s strong relationship with leaders in Helmand and reaffirmed that British confidence in Mangal is very high. He also reassured Mangal that United States sees him as a superb governor in a dangerous role, who is both wise and brave. He said Afghans and the international community alike see Mangal among the rising generation of leaders in a new Afghanistan.
7. (SBU) The Ambassador told Mangal that new ISAF Commander, General Stanley McChrystal, is a long-time professional colleague and personal friend, and promised to brief General McChrystal on the history of Helmand before his first visit. For the U.S. and UK, Helmand is one of the top two or three provinces for our strategy in the next year, which is reflected in the deployment of our Marines there. The Ambassador said in his new civilian role, he would increase the focus on reconstruction, governance and development, including programs that increase capacity and reduce unemployment. He stressed that in order to combat unemployment, we will work hard on agricultural productivity and programs that help farmers bring those products to market road development. Small scale irrigation systems will also be emphasized. At the same time, we will take all measures we can to reinforce programs to establish better governance and to increase communication with Karzai. The Ambassador encouraged Mangal not to lose faith. He invited Mangal to stop by any time he is in Kabul, and said on his next visit to Helmand, they would walk through the bazaar together. Mangal thanked the Ambassador for his kind words and vowed to keep pushing forward change in Helmand.
Document 10: Karzai feared US intended to unseat him and weaken Afghanistan. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry reports on four occasionally hostile meetings with Hamid Karzai in summer 2009 in which the Afghan president “displayed views that troubled me with their potential implications for US-Afghan relations”. Karzai is reported to have worried that the US no longer seemed to have a clear purpose in Afghanistan and appeared to believe conspiracy theories that the US was working with the Iranians to unseat him in the presidential elections.
Tuesday, 07 July 2009, 13:29
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 001767
EO 12958 DECL: 07/03/2019
TAGS PGOV, PREL, AF
SUBJECT: KARZAI ON THE STATE OF US-AFGHAN RELATIONS
Classified By: Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d ).
1. (S/NF) SUMMARY. In a series of meetings this week, I discussed with President Karzai a number of issues, including Karzai’s concerns with the future of US policy on Afghanistan, and his opinions on where US policy here had failed. The meetings were cordial, but raised certain concerns for me about the status of the US-Afghan relationship, both in the lead up to the election and over the long term, should Karzai win reelection. Karzai’s comments reinforce my belief that our relationship must be a two-way partnership of obligations and responsibilities. We must also convince Karzai to put his backing behind democratic institutions and professionalized security forces are better equipped to lead Afghanistan into the future, rather than Karzai’s preference for tribal structures and informal power networks. This cable summarizes the content of these four recent meetings, as well as a subsequent conversation with Interior Minister Atmar. End Summary.
2. (S/NF) I met with Karzai on four occasions this week: on June 30 with COMISAF Gen. McChrystal and most of Karzai’s national security team, and three times on July 1, with SRAP Special Advisor Barnett Rubin, in a one-on-one meeting, and finally with CODEL Ellsworth. Karzai maintained a calm demeanor throughout, but at several times displayed views that troubled me with their potential implications for US-Afghan relations. I also called on Atmar on July 2.
3. (S/NF) At the June 30 meeting with Karzai and his national security advisors, Gen. McChrystal and I briefed Karzai on a June 29 incident in which a USG-funded, equipped, and mentored paramilitary force attacked a Kandahar courthouse. The incident resulted in the deaths of several Afghan National Police officers. Karzai had earlier received phone calls from high-level US officials regretting the incident, so was calm and did not display the type of emotive anger he has shown following civilian casualty incidents. In the later one-on-one meeting with me, I reminded Karzai that he had selected and introduced this paramilitary unit’s recruits to the USG in 2002, a fact that he had conveniently omitted in larger group settings.
4. (S/NF) Karzai insisted that units operating outside of the Afghan armed forces must be brought under the legitimate control of the Afghan government. Gen. McChrystal and I agreed that both counterterrorism paramilitary units and private security companies (PSCs) require more rigorous oversight and be brought under the eventual control of the Afghan government. PSCs required stronger regulations, yet the government should also adopt more transparent licensing procedures.
US Policy on Afghanistan
5. (S/NF) Karzai declared in all four meetings that he believed the US was not speaking clearly to Afghans on its goals in Afghanistan. Karzai contended that in 2002 the US had stated a clear purpose for being involved in Afghanistan but had lost its purpose over the past six years. As he has in past meetings with us, Karzai either stated his belief in or repeated rumors questioning the US commitment to a strong partnership with Afghanistan.
6. (S/NF) Karzai reported Pakistani intelligence officials had alleged to Afghan officials that the US intended to divide Pakistan and weaken Afghanistan in order to pursue its fight against terrorist groups. At the same time, Karzai accused Iran of trying to weaken Afghanistan by supporting the presidential campaign of Abdullah Abdullah in order to promote a decentralization agenda that would strip power from the central government to give to sub-national actors over whom Iran believed it would have more control. Incredulously, Karzai appeared to accept so-called rumors that the US and Iran were working together to support Abdullah against him.
7. (S/NF) I pushed back strongly on this misinformation in the June 30 meeting with Karzai’s national security team, reiterating to Karzai that there was no overt or covert US program to support any presidential candidate. I then asked Karzai if he took me at my word on this issue. Karzai, perhaps not wanting to back down in front of his advisors, said that he did not. Karzai said the US had actively encouraged Abdullah, Ashraf Ghani, and Zalmay Khalilzad to run for the presidency. At one point Karzai joked that I should “consult my (above) buddies” on national security issues. I repeated that the US had no favored candidates in
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the race and the formal setting of the meeting was not a proper forum to make such inappropriate comments. He was embarrassed and helpfully shifted the conversation to another topic. I also urged Karzai to move away from conspiratorial thinking and instead focus on bringing ideas for the future into his campaign. Introducing a clear platform now will put him in a better position to move forward if he wins reelection.
US Mistakes in Afghanistan
8. (S/NF) Karzai and I held a one-on-one meeting shortly before meeting CODEL Ellsworth. Karzai agreed with my suggestion to make a better effort to present the case for continued and productive US engagement in his meetings with USG visitors from Washington. However, as the CODEL meeting began, Karzai reverted to old form and launched into a familiar review of the many instances where he believed the US had miscalculated its policies in the region. In summary: The US had failed to formulate an effective post-2001 policy on Pakistan, had pulled out of southern Afghanistan (particularly Helmand) too soon and given too much responsibility to ill-equipped and casualty-averse NATO allies, had failed to effectively engage with and pay respect to the importance of tribal leaders in Afghan society, and had allowed tribal leader networks to be decimated by insurgent attacks. I spoke up then, observing that I had visited Helmand several years ago before other NATO forces took over military operations there and witnessed signs that governance and security were declining under then-Gov. Sher Mohammed Akhundzada.
Atmar on Karzai’s Paranoia
9. (S/NF) I told Interior Minister Atmar at our July 2 meeting that with his conspiratorial behavior, Karzai would run the risk of leaving USG interlocutors with the impression that we have accomplished very little here and that the Afghan government believed most of the failures lay with us. This is not a dialogue that will lead to an effective partnership. The US has been clear in its past shortcomings in Afghanistan, but we have yet to see Karzai admit to the serious shortcomings in his administration.
10. (S/NF) Atmar agreed with the importance of Karzai presenting himself as a better international partner. He also detailed three existing paranoias that affected Karzai’s worldview: (1) Karzai did not understand US policy in the region and suspected ulterior motives in our relationship with neighboring countries; (2) he suspected the US was contemplating a short-term strategy in Afghanistan that would result in our disengagement within the next two years; and (3) the US was intent on dumping Karzai and supporting another candidate. A fourth emerging paranoia was of a US plot to divide and weaken Pashtuns on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border. Despite these paranoias, Atmar assured me that Karzai had confidence in his personal relationship with me and recognized the need to meet more frequently to work through his misperceptions of US policy and intentions.
Our Relationship with Karzai
11. (S/NF) In these meetings and other recent encounters with Karzai, two contrasting portraits emerge. The first is of a paranoid and weak individual unfamiliar with the basics of nation building and overly self-conscious that his time in the spotlight of glowing reviews from the international community has passed. The other is that of an ever-shrewd politician who sees himself as a nationalist hero who can save the country from being divided by the decentralization-focused agenda of Abdullah, other political rivals, neighboring countries, and the US. In order to recalibrate our relationship with Karzai, we must deal with and challenge both of these personalities.
12. (S/NF) The danger of long-term damage to our relationship with and thus our influence over Karzai ) who for now is the clear favorite to win the election ) is real, but not irreversible. We need to carefully ensure that the distance between us and Karzai does not grow over the remaining weeks before the election. Karzai has invited me for a series of one-on-one meetings in the near future. According to Atmar, Karzai recognizes the importance of a closer dialogue. I will use this opportunity and others to re-focus our dialogue on several points that can improve our mutual understanding, including:
13. (S/NF) We need to seriously examine the issue of armed groups that currently operate outside of the purview of
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official Afghan government control. The activities of paramilitary units and PSCs, combined with civilian casualties, night searches, and others issues related to the presence of foreign forces, play into the manifestation of Afghans’ anger that they are not in control of their own country. Karzai claims only to be a vessel for his peoples’ anger. All hubris aside, he is expressing a legitimate concern of his constituents. These problems will be a barrier to moving forward in other areas of our relationship until we have properly addressed them.
14. (S/NF) At the same time, we must convince Karzai that the US-Afghan relationship is a two-way street of obligations and responsibilities. While we accept our own responsibilities, Karzai must accept and act on our expectation that he elucidate a clear vision for how he intends to lead Afghanistan over the next five years in a way that encourages democratization, promotes economic development, and recognizes the poisonous effects corruption has had on his government’s ability to win the trust and respect of its people. If reelected, it is my hope that a Karzai who no longer needs to run for reelection will be better positioned and in a healthier frame of mind to pursue this agenda, as well as a meaningful national reconciliation.
15. (S/NF) I will work now to lay the foundation for improved trust and advances on the two key themes outlined above. I will work in tandem with Gen. McChrystal on both of these fronts. On the discussion of shared responsibilities, I will begin a frank, collaborative (and perhaps, at times, confrontational) dialogue with Karzai. No alternative approach is now evident. Karzai’s current vision for Afghanistan’s future relies too strongly on warlords, tribal chiefs, and other personalities of the past who would be difficult to reconcile with our commitments to build strong government institutions and professional security forces.
Document 11: Hamid Karzai threatens a ‘tribal solution’ in Helmand. Karzai threatens to implement a ‘tribal solution’ in Helmand, that will involve replacing the UK favoured governor, Gulab Mangal, with corrupt tribal powerbroker Sher Mohammad Akhundzada. The cable says that Karzai is not just hopeful that Akhundzada can deliver security, but also votes in the presidential election.
Saturday, 22 November 2008, 10:09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003030
STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR MCGRAW
CENTCOM FOR CG CJTF-101 POLAD
EO 12958 DECL: 11/21/2018
TAGS PREL, PGOV, EAID, AF
SUBJECT: POLITICAL AND SECURITY SITUATION IN HELMAND:
SPANTA AND SPENZADA VIEWS
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) President Karzai is willing to consider a combined ISAF-ANA (with key roles for the U.S. and UK) security plan to improve stability in Helmand, but is convinced reinstating Sher Mohammad Akhunzada (SMA) as governor is the best way to achieve stability (and bring out votes in next year,s election). There is no known decision or timeline for replacing Governor Mangal with SMA. Spenzada welcomed international collaboration with Mangal to increase aid projects in Alizai areas to bolster Mangal,s tenuous position.
2. (SBU) The subject of Helmand security, Sher Mohammad Akhunzada and the role of PRTs came up in two recent meetings: an 11/18 meeting between FM Spanta and the Ambassador and an 11/17 meeting between Deputy NSA Ibrahim Spenzada and Polcouns.
London visit: Karzai challenges UK for a Helmand security plan
3. (C) FM Spanta confirmed that Helmand security was the top issue of Karzai,s London discussions. The exchange centered on the best means to bring Taliban-controlled areas under government control (according to the NDS, five of Helmand,s 13 districts are undr Taliban control). The UK and Afghanistan discussed a combined ISAF-ANA approach (with implicit understanding of lead roles for the U.S. and UK) and an Afghan-led solution.
4. (C) Deputy NSA Spenzada put it in starker terms — Karzai told the British that he wanted to see their Helmand security plan. If the UK didn,t have one, he would take a &tribal solution.8 Spenzada confirmed &tribal solution8 meant reinstating Sher Mohammad Akhunzada (SMA) as Helmand governor.
5. (C) UK General Richards told Spanta the UK was prepared to offer to send 2000 additional soldiers to Helmand once Karzai requested it officially. Spanta said the London visit helped reduce misunderstandings, but he expressed disappointment in the British, contending they were not ready to fight as actively as American soldiers.
Karzai,s view on SMA and the Alizai
6. (C) Spenzada said there was no decision or timeline for reinstating SMA as Helmand Governor. He explained that Karzai sees control of the Alizai as key to improving stability in the province, and he was convinced only SMA could bring control t the Alizai. The Alizai are the majority and hold control in the troubled districts of Kajaki, Musa Qala and Sangin. Karzai believes the Alizai dominate the Barakzai, Poplazai, Ishakzai and other Helmand tribes. In Karzai,s calculation, control of the Alizai translates into control over all the weaker tribes, too.
7. (C) At a 10/31 meeting with the Ambassador, Governor Mangal disputed SMA,s monolithic control of the Alizai. Mangal pointed to his recentsuccess in installing an Alizai ally as chiefof Kajaki district. Despite SMA,s continuingefforts to undermine him, Mangal appeared upbeat about winning more Alizais to his side.
8. (C) Spenzada agreed the Alizai were split ontheir support for SMA, and that the non-Aliza tribes strongly opposed SMA,s return. Spenzada described SMA as &part of the problem8 and recognized that unrestcould return if Karzai reinstated him. Spenzda said he and other Karzai advisors have failed to change Karzai,s mind on reinstating SMA.
9. (C) Although unsaid by Spenzada, a key underlying factor i Karzai,s calculation is his belief that SMA can deliver Alizai votes in next year,s election. Karzai,s Helmand vote accounted for six percent of his total support in 2004.
10. (C) Spenzada characterized Governor Mangal as a good official and a good person. He encouraged the United States to continue to work through Mangal to increase aid projects
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in Alizai areas, to bolster Mangal,s political position.
Musa Qala: Perceptions of unfulfilled promises
11. (C) Musa Qala District sub-governor Mullah Salam has complained that the international community has failed to deliver on reconstruction pledges to Musa Qala. Spenzada also suggested the United States do better. He suggested we bear in mind the promise/deliver problems from Musa Qala as we examine our plans for assistance to the Alizai.
Karzai comments on PRTs undermining local governance
12. (SBU) On November 16, Karzai stated at a press conference that PRTs were weakening the government by controlling resources, implementing projects and making arrests. Spenzada explained that Karzai believed the local people were going directly to PRTs for resource requests, and undermining the authority of local officials. Polcouns informed Spenzada that PRTs make an extra effort to redirect requests to local authorities, collaborate confidentially on those requests, and then turn to local authorities to inform the public on those decisions. Spenzada promised to pass along this information to Karzai.
Document 12: David Cameron concerned over UK-Pakistan links. David Cameron tells Senator John McCain the Tories won’t break ranks with the Labour government on policies affecting British troops. He and William Hague say there is no political support to increase
UK troops in Iraq. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel are discussed, with the Tory leader expressing concerns about the domestic terror threat raised by UK-Pakistan links.
Tuesday, 01 April 2008, 09:58
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 000929
EO 12958 DECL: 03/28/2018
TAGS PREL, PGOV, MARR, IZ, AF, IS, IR, PK, UK
SUBJECT: DAVID CAMERON TELLS JOHN MCCAIN TORIES WON’T BREAK
WITH HMG WHERE TROOPS ARE CONCERNED
Classified By: Ambassador Robert H. Tuttle for reasons 1.4 (b,d)
1. (C/NF) Summary: Conservative party leader David Cameron told Senator John McCain the Tories won’t break ranks with HMG on policies affecting British troops in battle. Cameron and Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague told McCain and Senators Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham that Prime Minister Gordon Brown had no political support to increase British troops in Iraq. McCain said Basrah was “quiet for all the wrong reasons.” (This conversation took place March 20 before the recent surge of violence in Southern Iraq.) McCain thanked Britain for its support. The Senators also discussed Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel with Conservative leaders. End Summary.
2. (U) Senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, accompanied by the Ambassador, Senate staff Richard Fontaine and Dan Serchuk, and Poloff Kirsten Schulz met March 20 in David Cameron’s House of Commons office. Cameron had assembled an eager group from his front bench including Hague, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, Shadow Defence Minister Liam Fox, as well as Chief of Staff Edward Llewellyn, former party leader Michael Howard, and Dame Pauline Neville-Jones. The room was packed and the atmosphere collegial.
McCain’s Assessment of Iraq
3. (C/NF) Senator McCain said the situation in Iraq had improved. He warned that Al Qaeda would put up a fight in Mosul and the Iranians were “not going to go quietly into the night.” Maliki, McCain told the group, was weak but getting better. In Anbar province, he added, there was a demand for elections. McCain praised General Petraeus and the quality of the military leadership and mentioned Petraeus’ upcoming congressional testimony. Cameron asked what the American troop numbers were likely to be. McCain said the U.S. would “stick at 180,000” and noted, “it’s not the number of troops, but the number of casualties” which is of import. Al-Qaeda, said McCain, had taken to using suicide bombers and now to deploying women bombers. He said one woman was asked why she had tried to become a suicide bomber. She replied, “because my husband told me to.”
Cameron Asks McCain for Appraisal of Basrah
4. (C/NF) Cameron asked McCain what he thought was happening in the south of Iraq. McCain said he was very worried. He said it was like “Chicago in the 20’s” and “could go at any time.” The Iranians were there and the Iraqis were likely to find “the going to be extremely difficult.” “Just because its quiet,” said McCain, “doesn’t mean it’s good. It is quiet for all the wrong reasons.”
Pledge on Troops
5. (C/NF) Cameron and Hague told the Senators that the Conservatives would never take a policy position that would undermine British policies where troops are involved. Hague noted the Conservatives largely share the Labour foreign policy agenda. Cameron said Prime Minister Brown did not have the political support to increase the British troop presence in Iraq, saying “that moment has passed.” Hague seconded Cameron’s assessment. Cameron asked McCain whether the British plans for a further draw-down should not go forward, given that HMG could not both maintain a presence in Iraq and build up its role in Afghanistan. In response, McCain thanked Cameron and for Britain’s contribution in Iraq and Afghanistan.
6. (C/NF) McCain said he understood the Prime Minister intended to withdraw British troops prior to the next election. Hague confirmed Brown politically could not do otherwise. “I understand that,” said McCain, “the British people have my gratitude for all that you have done.”
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7. (C/NF) McCain told Cameron that Israel’s Prime Minster Ehud Omert was “still paying the price for Lebanon.” Cameron asked whether Quartet Leader Tony Blair was optimistic. McCain said he admired Blair for his steadfastness, but what McCain had noticed in international relations was the tendency of statesmen to be optimistic once they become negotiators.
8. (C/NF) McCain told Cameron he saw an increasing, and increasingly damaging role, for Iran in regional affairs. This included an increase in activity in Iraq and in arming Hezbollah. McCain said he advocated gathering Europe to “cut off all credit” to Iran. Not just Europe, but other like-minded nations such as Japan, should be encouraged to take collective action on such matters, he said. Hague responded that he and the Conservatives had been pushing for this for the last two years. Hague and Cameron alleged that the release of the National Intelligence Assessment had set back this effort.
Afghanistan and Pakistan
9. (C/NF) Cameron told McCain that he and his party focused on Afghanistan as the key foreign police issue. This was due, not least, to the timeline for when the Conservatives might come into office (2010 or 2009 at the earliest) and the fact that British troops were meant to be out of Iraq by then. Cameron also raised Pakistan, noting that 60,000 individuals travel to Pakistan from the UK each year and that this has implications for the UK’s own significant domestic “terror threat.” Cameron said he was interested in exploring the idea of whether ISAF and Enduring Freedom operations could be combined, as well as whether an increase in military presence was required or an enhanced civilian presence was more important. McCain replied that Afghanistan is complicated by the uncertainty in Pakistan. “We all like Karzai,” he said, “but his is a very weak government.” Cameron said NATO troop capacity was “patchy” and there appeared to be perpetual problems with shortages of air transport support. McCain said he was worried about Pakistan. “If they don’t cooperate and help us, I don’t know what we are going to do,” he said. He added, “Waziristan hasn’t been ruled for 2,000 years.” On a positive note, McCain praised the fighting capacity of Afghans, whom he called “great fighters.” Cameron said each year he met with Karzai, and each year he had the sense Karzai’s sphere of influence was shrinking.
10. (U) CODEL McCain did not clear this cable.
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