US ambassador warns President Obama about proceeding in Afghanistan with Karzai as partner

November 12, 2009

(ChattahBox) — President Barack Obama who is still struggling for a war strategy he is comfortable with in Afghanistan has been given new pause for concern. Reportedly he is calling on his national security team to revise the options already on the table for troop deployment and to clarify how and when they would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government,” a senior administration. Administration officials say Obama wants to make clear to Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan is not “open-ended.”

“The key sticking points appear to be timelines and mounting questions about the credibility of the Afghan government,” the official said. Adding to those mounting questions is the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, who has reportedly spoken out in the debate against troop reinforcements, warning President Obama against depending on Afghan president Hamid Karzai recently re-elected for a five-year term in a tainted election, questioning his suitability as a long-term strategic partner, because of widespread corruption in his first administration and the presence of warlords and drugs smugglers in positions of influence. Eikenberry is not just your run of the mill ambassador, he is a retired army general who commanded US forces in Afghanistan from 2005-2007, detailed his concerns in two classified cables last week.

According to the London TimesOnline President Obama questioned Gen Eikenberry about his views at length by video-link yesterday during a meeting of his White House war cabinet, as he continues his lengthy deliberations on the question of troop numbers for Afghanistan. According to the Times, Eikenberry’s intervention has infuriated General Stanley McChrystal, the Nato and US commander in Afghanistan, who had asked for the extra 40,000 troops to avert a looming military defeat. Eikenberry might very well be speaking out of turn since McChrystal is now running the show, but I think his position on the sideline is giving him a clearer perspective on the dangers of escalating this war without a solid partner to count on in terms of Afghanistan’s government.


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