Pullout price: Karzai to wrestle Obama for troops, aid

944010 president honor Pullout price: Karzai to wrestle Obama for troops, aid

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Link copied to clipboardemail story to a friendprint versionPublished: 11 January, 2013, 13:27

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai (C) reviews an honor guard at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on January 10, 2013 (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad) Imminent pullout of US troops from Afghanistan in 2014 is likely to place Afghan President Hamid Karzai between a rock and a hard place. During talks in Washington he is to bargain over whether he would seek support elsewhere in China and Iran.“The domestic politics of the United States – as they often are – are the overriding factor here. The people fear the war and they don’t want to pay for it anymore. Whether or not it’s a wise decision on their part, that’s how the population feels right now,” he told RT.The tension is aggravated by the perception of Karzai and his government as corrupt and inefficient. Leaving him to deal with his domestic problems while maintaining a smaller footprint, which would be enough to contain Iran and China, is a tempting course of action. Kabul is at risk of losing control of a greater portion of Afghanistan territory to Taliban militants and Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters. The country went through a similar period of warlord-driven disarray following the 1989 Soviet withdrawal and until Taliban ultimately took over. “Looking back over the history of Afghanistan, many great powers have broken their teeth trying to govern that particular part of the world and I don’t think that we’ve done any better job than of any of the previous invading powers had,” Rutenberg believes. “I think that unfortunately after 11 years of war if we were to leave, it would create a power vacuum and probably leave them much of a situation we found them in 2001.”Karzai, who is to abandon office in 2014 but has not yet endorsed a successor, is left with few bargaining chips. He may take a tough position over what small presence Washington wants to keep in the country at the cost of losing financial aid from the US. It may also turn to its neighbors as potential patrons to replace America.“President Karzai is not without his resources. He has other allies in the region. The Afghan government tried to build more of a security, political and economic relationship with China, with Iran, with India,” Leverett says.Parting with the US, not unlike Iraq did in 2011, may be the course of preference for Karzai, if he fails to get enough backing. It would boost his popularity at home, where many people loathe lasting American involvement and justly or unjustly blame on them all hardships of their live.On a longer timescale, Kabul will have to negotiate a new configuration of power in Afghanistan, and bringing to common ground all the parties interested may prove beyond it.”);
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­Karzai is meeting US President Barack Obama on Friday for what is expected to be tough negotiations over his country’s future. Washington is planning to considerably reduce the number of its troops deployed in the country from the current 66,000 to as few as 2,000 to 6,000. A zero-presence option is also on the table.Afghanistan’s own security forces, which the US pledged to train and equip before withdrawal, may not be prepared to take full responsibility. This would be especially true if the US refuses to back the Afghans with air and artillery support during operations and would conduct its own independent missions, focusing on drone strikes like in Pakistan.“These talks are for the president and his national security principals to let Afghanistan’s President Karzai down as softly as they can, to let him know that unfortunately they are not going to make up on their promise to completely train up the Afghan military and police before the US troops leave,” Hillary Mann Leverett, the CEO of STRATEGA political risk consultancy, told RT.American reluctance to support Karzai the way it did for 11 years is understandable. The war is unpopular among America’s European allies and at home. It takes troops lives, including those lost to green-on-blue attacks, costs too much in the ti
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me of economic slowdown and gives no clear profit to Americans, says Ari Rutenberg, contributor of The Daily Banter independent political site.President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai (L) sits with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her outer office at the State Department in Washington, January 10, 2013 (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst) “The domestic politics of the United States – as they often are – are the overriding factor here. The people fear the war and they don’t want to pay for it anymore. Whether or not it’s a wise decision on their part, that’s how the population feels right now,” he told RT.The tension is aggravated by the perception of Karzai and his government as corrupt and inefficient. Leaving him to deal with his domestic problems while maintaining a smaller footprint, which would be enough to contain Iran and China, is a tempting course of action. Kabul is at risk of losing control of a greater portion of Afghanistan territory to Taliban militants and Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters. The country went through a similar period of warlord-driven disarray following the 1989 Soviet withdrawal and until Taliban ultimately took over. “Looking back over the history of Afghanistan, many great powers have broken their teeth trying to govern that particular part of the world and I don’t think that we’ve done any better job than of any of the previous invading powers had,” Rutenberg believes. “I think that unfortunately after 11 years of war if we were to leave, it would create a power vacuum and probably leave them much of a situation we found them in 2001.”Karzai, who is to abandon office in 2014 but has not yet endorsed a successor, is left with few bargaining chips. He may take a tough position over what small presence Washington wants to keep in the country at the cost of losing financial aid from the US. It may also turn to its neighbors as potential patrons to replace America.“President Karzai is not without his resources. He has other allies in the region. The Afghan government tried to build more of a security, political and economic relationship with China, with Iran, with India,” Leverett says.Parting with the US, not unlike Iraq did in 2011, may be the course of preference for Karzai, if he fails to get enough backing. It would boost his popularity at home, where many people loathe lasting American involvement and justly or unjustly blame on them all hardships of their live.On a longer timescale, Kabul will have to negotiate a new configuration of power in Afghanistan, and bringing to common ground all the parties interested may prove beyond it.

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Pullout price: Karzai to wrestle Obama for troops, aid

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