Author Topic: WikiLeaks Cable: Afghanistan - KARZAI LOOKS FORWARD  (Read 4421 times)

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Offline mayya

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WikiLeaks Cable: Afghanistan - KARZAI LOOKS FORWARD
« on: October 26, 2013, 23:01:56 PM »
Cable reference id: #09KABUL3865
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Reference id aka Wikileaks id #237832 ?
SubjectKarzai Looks Forward
OriginEmbassy Kabul (Afghanistan)
Cable timeThu, 3 Dec 2009 11:27 UTC
Referenced by09KABUL3973
Hide headerS E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 KABUL 003865 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2019 TAGS: PREL [External Political Relations], PROG, AF [Afghanistan] SUBJECT: KARZAI LOOKS FORWARD

 Classified By: Ambassador Karl Eikenberry; Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

 ¶1. (S) SUMMARY: On December 2, Ambassador Eikenberry met twice with President Karzai. At the first meeting, the Ambassador and General McChrystal discussed President Obama's December 2, speech with Karzai and his national security team. Ambassador Eikenberry advised that at the national level, the United States will focus on three categories of essential ministries: Security, Economy, and Human Services. We will also work through the Independent Directorate for Local Governance (IDLG) to improve sub-national governance. In the meeting, Karzai provided criticism and a puzzling overview of the root causes of corruption in Afghanistan, largely casting blame on expat-Afghans and foreigners. In Eikenberry's second meeting with Karzai and NSA Rassoul, they discussed the roll-out of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Ambassador Eikenberry cited the December 2 signing of a lease for the Mazar-i-Sharif Consulate as an example of our long-term commitment to Afghanistan. The Ambassador also warned Karzai that Afghanistan will receive intense media and Congressional attention. Karzai, who consulted with Ambassador Eikenberry on his potential Cabinet picks, shared his plan to announce his choices in two stages.

 --------------------------------- Strategy Roll-out Tops Discussion ---------------------------------

¶2. (S)
The December 2 morning meeting began with Karzai asking General McChrystal to elaborate on President Obama's December 2 speech. General McChrystal briefed on the deployment schedule of forces over the next 12 months. He assessed that the number of non-U.S. NATO forces would also increase. General McChrystal also mentioned his recent trip to Pakistan where he met with Chief of Army Staff Kiyani. Ambassador Eikenberry emphasized to Karzai that at the national level, future U.S. development and aid initiatives will focus on three categories of essential ministries: - Security ministries, consisting of the Ministries of Defense, Interior, and the National Directorate of Security (NDS); - Human services ministries, comprising the Ministries of Education and Health; and, - Economic ministries, including the Ministries of Agriculture, Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), Energy, Mining, Transportation, Commerce, and Finance. Also at the national level, the United States will place additional emphasis on governance and policy, on civil service training and electoral reform. Ambassador Eikenberry explained that we will work through the IDLG to improve delivery of basic services to Afghans. In a clear reference to President Obama's statement that we will support "...Afghan Ministries, Governors, and local leaders that combat corruption", Karzai said he was concerned about the establishment of "parallel structures" in the government.

¶3. (S) When the conversation turned to UNAMA, Karzai responded that he had lost faith in UNAMA. Karzai then said "why not talk about the Government of Afghanistan to coordinate donations?" The Ambassador replied that it was a matter to discuss in the months to come.

¶4. (S) Returning to President Obama's strategy as laid out in his speech, Karzai advised that engaging community leaders was key because they were the "doors" to communities. "Taliban find space in communities", said Karzai, "You can't call for meetings at Camp Bastion (the main British base in Helmand Province)". Further, if the Afghan/Pakistan border remained porous, Afghanistan's security situation would remain insecure, said Karzai, who added that he would accompany British PM Brown to Khandahar and Helmand in the future.
 --------------------------------------------- - Eikenberry to Karzai, "You're too Thin-Skinned" --------------------------------------------- --

¶5. (S) President Karzai complained that international criticism undermined his government. He expressed a desire for our bilateral relationship to improve and joked that mutual respect between the two countries might improve to at least the level that existed in the waning days of the Bush administration. Karzai requested that both sides pay more attention to the language employed with each other. The Ambassador cautioned that the United States will now enter a period of intense, even caustic, debate over the merits of the President's Afghanistan strategy. Warning Karzai that KABUL 00003865 002 OF 004 some American media and some in Congress can be expected to sharply criticize Afghanistan and its president, the Ambassador suggested Karzai "develop a thicker skin" in the weeks to come to prepare for the onslaught. It is essential to look forward and take concrete steps to build mutual trust and confidence. In response, Karzai said he would mobilize sympathetic Parliamentarians to respond to criticism directed at him.

¶6. (S) Karzai requested another teleconference in the short-term with President Obama to discuss the political context of the President's announced troop surge. Karzai suggested three main issues for the next discussion: --The development of a strategic understanding for our partnership and a plan for him to hold a jirga with Afghan leaders to build a consensus for our strategic relationship;

--President Karzai's plan to increase support for community leaders. Karzai said some 177 Pashtun tribal leaders have been killed by insurgents and complained that in 2006 we refused his request for a USD 25-million fund that he had planned to use to build up tribal governance. He emphasized the need to focus on the protection of Afghanistan's rural populations and that his government can't be seen as "stooges of the United States, Iran, Pakistan, and India"; and, -- The impact of our Pakistan and India policies on the U.S.-Afghan relationship. Referencing his November 30 teleconference with President Obama, Karzai said he would also like to speak to the President about his (Karzai's) election. Ambassador Eikenberry informed him that the weeks ahead will bring a tough, bruising battle played out in the media before Congress and the American public and that should be Karzai's focus -- not Afghanistan's August 2009 Presidential elections. The elections should be consigned to the history books. Karzai conceded the point.

¶7. (S) Lamenting the poor state of sub-national governance, Karzai expressed his desire to improve support to district governors. He said 200 of Afghanistan's 364 districts do not have district governance buildings, nor can his government provide vehicles to the district governors. Eikenberry told Karzai that we will support efforts to strengthen district-level governance.

--------------------------------------------- - Kabul Conference Will Require Much Preparation --------------------------------------------- -

¶8. (S) In the first meeting, Foreign Minister Spanta said he was disappointed he would not be included in the London Conference schedule. He then complained about Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi's recent comment to the BBC that social and political factors in Afghanistan contribute to recent Taliban successes in Afghanistan. Regarding the timing of the Kabul conference, Ambassador Eikenberry noted it was useful that Spanta had mentioned to Secretary Clinton during their recent telephone call a possible time frame of late March-early April for the conference. The Ambassador said the lapse of a few months between the London and Kabul conferences would permit the Afghans to prepare well for the latter conference. Taking the Ambassador's point seriously, Karzai endorsed the need for good preparation.

--------------------------------------------- ------- Karzai Attributes Corruption to Expats and Foreigners --------------------------------------------- -------

¶9. (S) Addressing the need to deal with corruption, Karzai intoned that the problem wasn't caused by "real" Afghans. Rather, corruption was caused by expatriate Afghans, those holding U.S. and foreign passports who have returned. Karzai claimed that the Afghan side of his family lived modestly, while the American side of his family was getting rich in Afghanistan. Expanding on the "us vs. them" theme, he said the country-side dwellers were "at war with the government" because they were poor and city dwellers were rich. Further, the luxury of city dwellers was induced by U.S. foreign policy. "The problem", said Karzai, "is with foreign relatives". Hearing this, National Security Advisor Rassoul retorted emotionally, "You are not talking about me." An equally angry Spanta interjected, "Are you talking about me? What about the Mujahadeen?". Responding to Spanta's question, Karzai said that the Mujahadeen got rich before the United States arrived, adding that he needed to have a "frank talk" with America about this issue.

 --------------------------------------------- -------------- Karzai Laments Shortcomings in the ANA, Questions the Brits --------------------------------------------- -------------- KABUL 00003865 003 OF 004

¶10. (S) Turning his attention to the Afghan National Army (ANA), Karzai announced that the ANA leadership should lead simpler, more spartan lives. He criticized widespread reports of ANA generals driving expensive cars and NDS reports that only no officers had died in battles with insurgents, only ANA soldiers died (the latter account was disputed by Minister of Defense Wardak). Reflecting on ANA recruitment, Karzai asked why so few Afghans from the provinces of Zabul, Ghazni, Helmand, Herat, and Farah enlist in the ANA. He bemoaned the fact that only drug users join the Afghan National Police (ANP) in Khandahar and Helmand Provinces. Upon hearing the latter, Minister of Interior Affairs Atmar interjected that a partially completed personnel asset inventory conducted in Khandahar and Helmand turned up the surprisingly good news that only 20 percent of ANP personnel were drug users.

 ¶11. (S) Exhibiting displeasure, Karzai said he was concerned about British "unwillingness" to work with (former Helmand governor and suspected drug lord) Sher Mohammed from the Ali Zada clan. Indicating that he felt the Ali Zada clan was key to the fight against insurgency, Karzai asked rhetorically whether the British wanted to fight the Taliban, or were they only willing to work with people who looked pretty and spoke well, in which case he could provide names. He charged the British with hypocrisy, saying they preferred dealing with four drug lords they knew well.

--------------------------------------------- ------ Consulate Lease-Signing Sign of American Commitment --------------------------------------------- ------

¶12. (S) Ambassador Eikenberry raised the December 2, signing of a lease for the Mazar-i-Sharif Consulate as an example of our long-term commitment to Afghanistan. Further, this act served as a clear rebuttal to political pundits asserting that President Obama's statement that U.S. troops will begin to come home in 18 months signaled our intent to abandon Afghanistan. Building on the theme of our long-term commitment, the Ambassador pointed to the White House press release stating support for economic development in the areas of water, energy, and mining.

-------------------------- Two Stage Cabinet Roll-out --------------------------

¶13. (S) Karzai informed Ambassador Eikenberry of his plan to appoint Cabinet members in two stages. He expected to send some of his names to Parliament within a week (Parliament's Lower House must confirm the President's nominees and then send the remainder of the names to Parliament for confirmation once Parliament returns from its December 6 - January 21 recess). Karzai said he his first tranche of nominees will include the following: -- Defense: Abdul Rahim Wardak will remain at Defense, -- Foreign Affairs: Karzai may ask current NSA Rassoul to assume this position, -- Finance: Omer Zakhiwal will remain in place, -- National Security Advisor: Ali Ahmad Jalali (former Minister of Interior), -- Agriculture: Asif Rahimi will return as Minister of Agriculture, -- Mining: Amirzai Sangin (currently Minister of Telecommunications) -- Interior Affairs: Karzai said that Atmar has lost the confidence of the Northern Alliance, who say he is bringing the former Communist Khad (Afghan secret police during the Soviet occupation) into MoI. Responding to the Ambassador's question if it was essential for Atmar to leave MoI, Karzai said it was not, but he was under considerable political pressure to remove Atmar from his current position. Karzai said if he decides to remove Atmar, he might appoint Atmar as Minister of Energy. A possible replacement for Atmar was current ANA Chief of Staff Muhammadi Bismullah. Karzai asked Eikenberry's opinion on Bismullah Khan, who responded that he would consult with General McChrystal. --Energy: Karzai said he will remove Ismail Khan as Minister of Energy, but was struggling to find the right person to replace him (though Atmar was mentioned).

¶14. (S) Karzai also shared his plan to name three women to as-yet-undetermined posts in his Cabinet. Candidates included Sima Samar (Chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission), another unnamed woman to perhaps the Ministry of Public Health (Karzai mentioned that current Minister of Public Health Fatimie may remain in that position, but it would depend on his health), and a third, unnamed woman to a third position. (NOTE: The Ambassador has KABUL 00003865 004 OF 004 heard separately that Bamiyan Governor Habiba Sarabi is under consideration for the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and that NDS Director Saleh will also remain in place.

¶15. (S) COMMENT: In the two meetings Karzai manifested both encouraging and discouraging tendencies. General McChrystal and Ambassador Eikenberry agreed that Karzai in some ways appeared to excude the spirit of a wartime commander, an important quality he has heretofore not demonstrated. As Commander in Chief, Karzai appears to be focused on the right issues, in particular how to make the ANA a more effective fighting organization. The Ambassador gave Karzai credit for his genuine willingness to consult on Cabinet picks. However, Karzai's dismaying qualities include his seeming unwillingness to take any responsibility for corruption and poor governance, and his continuing obsession that foreign influences are to blame for these problems. Karzai acknowledges the corruption, but blames it on outsiders.
Another related negative was the revelation that Karzai still contemplates returning the corrupt, narco-trafficking former governor of Helmand Province, Sher Mohhammed to power. Karzai remains extremely thin-skinned, consumed by foreign criticism, always reacting to perceived slights. Karzai's plan to seek confirmation for Cabinet nominees in two stages suggests that he may first announce palatable choices and then reserve more questionable choices to meet the expectations of his jihadi political campaign allies for the second tranche. However, those possible nominations mentioned up to this point are of high caliber.
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