December 18, 2009

Too Real

Earlier Al Jazeera reported that five current Afghan ministers found their way on the anti-corruption list commissioned by Hamid Karzai. Within hours two of the biggest names, foreign minister Rangin Spanta and interior minister Hanif Atmar, were stricken from the list.

The deputy attorney general blamed their inclusion on "miscommunication."

McClatchy is also reporting that Karzai will reappoint many of his ministers including Atmar, although Spanta and economics minister Jalil Shams were excluded. Let's see if they sneak in too. The AP reports he wants to keep Spanta. In addition, mining minister Muhammad Ibrahim Adel is being replaced but controversial water minister Ismail Khan will stay.

Just enough change to perpetuate the illusion, but the reality is Karzai found a way to keep most of his men. Former warlords Mohammad Qasim Fahim and Karim Khalili, his vice-presidents and considered corrupt by America, stood at his side. Karzai's already cleared a number of indicted officials, including Kabul Mayor Abdul Ahad Sayebi.

"I know the mayor," he said, whom he appointed. "He is a clean person."

Maybe Sayebi was framed; Kabul is stuffed with factions. And it should be noted that his cabinet list must still be approved by parliament. One official said Karzai leaked the list to see what reaction he would get. But his method never differs - deny, deny - and just so happens to mimic the UN's.

Yesterday the New York Times ran a story, with sources from two UN officials, under the initial headline UN official plotted to replace Karzai, later watered down to UN officials say American official offered plan to replace Karzai.

The NYT should have been more suspicious and a change in headline suggests it became aware of the possibility of a cover up. Not soon enough though, because the story was easy to x-ray from the beginning. The UN is trying to take Peter Galbraith down - but Galbraith doesn't go down easy.

Today he told Al Jazeera he caused an, "acute embarrassment to the United Nations when it turned that what I was saying was 100 per cent correct." Galbraith called the contents of the NYT report, "a phony which was being put out for the purposes of obscuring the real issue - the mishandling of the elections by the United Nations."

Instead he blamed UN officials for mishandling the widespread fraud of the first election, choosing to play it down and creating, in Galbraith's words, "
a prolonged and unnecessary political crisis, and it need not have occurred had the UN done its job and insisted on honest elections."

We get that nobody wants him talking, but one would think winning the war trumps pride and self-interest. Galbraith warned, "
These fraudulent elections have given the Taliban their greatest victory in eight years."

And Karzai's new cabinet, depending on its makeup, could hand them the war just as US troops flood southern Afghanistan. America and the UN should stop covering up and listen up. Octopus Mountain is.

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