Entries in President Hamid Karzai (6)


Afghanistan and U.S. Sign Deal on Night Raids

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Afghanistan and the United States signed a deal on night raids on Sunday, The Washington Post reports.

Under the agreement, an Afghan force that was just created -- the Afghan Special Operations Unit -- will search houses and compounds to arrest suspected insurgents, and U.S. forces will provide support that is only required or requested. The deal resolved a major source of friction between the United States and President Hamid Karzai, who has repeatedly called for an end to the raids.

Around 3,000 night raids have been conducted over the past 14 months, according to U.S. officials, who also said that suspects were apprehended 81 percent of the time. Many Afghans have complained that the raids violate their privacy, create panic and result in civilian casualties.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Secretary Clinton Claims Karzai's Anti-US Comments 'Taken out of Context'

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton responded to questions regarding Afghanistan President Karzai’s recent comments expressing his support for Pakistan -- even a willingness to ally with the country in a hypothetical armed conflict against the U.S.

Clinton said that she does not believe that Karzai was distancing himself from the United States.

“President Karzai and I had a very productive meeting when I was in Kabul last week,” she said. “So, frankly, when I heard about the comments, we immediately asked Ambassador Crocker to go in and figure out what it meant and what the point of it was...[He] reported back that he really believed that what Karzai was talking about was the long history of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan...And that it is not at all about a war that anybody was predicting and that it was both taken out of context and misunderstood.”

Karzai had said to a Pakistani television station that in event of a conflict with the United States, Afghanistan would support Pakistan.

These comments were made only a day after Clinton visited him in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Afghan President Begrudgingly Inaugurates Parliament

Photo Courtesy - Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai inaugurated parliament Wednesday morning more than four months after a fraud-filled election, but did so begrudgingly and only after blaming the West for pushing the country to the verge of "chaos."

Karzai and his allies, upset at the outcome of the September election and worried about losing candidates responding violently, created repeated roadblocks to Wednesday's ceremony, including a special tribunal to investigate fraud that critics said was unconstitutional.

Karzai's actions caused some Western officials to question whether he was an adequate partner.  But Karzai blamed the political paralysis of the last few months on the United Nations and the international community, releasing a stinging rebuke that shows he continues to blame the West for his own political weakness and continues to tap into anti-Western sentiment to score political points.

"Some foreign countries started interfering and questioned [the creation of the special tribunal].  And they started to create chaos in the country, urging the candidates to inaugurate parliament even without the president's presence," Karzai said in a statement released a few hours before the inauguration.  "So in order to avoid foreign interference and in order to avoid chaos, I decided to meet with the winning candidates.  And I convinced them that even after we open parliament, they should accept the decision of the special tribunal."

Just because Afghanistan has a parliament for the first time in six months does not mean the political instability is over.  Karzai's office released statements from losing candidates in which one warned they would "go to the mountains and fight for our lost Afghanistan."  And the special tribunal is expected to try to unseat more than 30 candidates, according to a senior government official.  It's not clear if those candidates would hand over their seats without a fight.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Military Changes Ground Rules for Afghan Night Raids

Photo Courtesy - ISAF/U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell, Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs(WASHINGTON) -- The United States military has changed a handful of rules governing Special Operations Forces raids in Afghanistan that are designed to kill or capture high-level leaders, in an attempt to address Afghani concerns over a tactic of the war there that has increased by a factor of five in the last year.

The operations, widely known as night raids because the overwhelming majority take place in darkness, have exasperated Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration.  Karzai himself recently said they "have to go away" and represent a "continuing disagreement" with the United States.

Barging into an Afghani's house anytime without permission is considered rude; doing so at night is considered offensive and incites extreme anger, even among those who support the U.S.  But U.S. commanders have lauded the night raids, saying they have led to the capture or death of hundreds of mid-level commanders and have given the military a much better understanding of insurgent networks.

The changes appear to be an attempt by the U.S. miltary to address Afghan concerns without significantly altering how it uses the night raids, which were mentioned positively in the annual Afghanistan-Pakistan review released by President Obama Thursday.

According to a senior NATO official, the changes include:

--  Providing, in writing, a point of contact to the family of anyone taken in a raid.

-- Handing receipts to family members if U.S. or Afghan special operations forces take any items from their compound.

-- Videotaping "as much as possible" on the raid.  This is to defend against future accustaions and also move slowly toward an arrangement with the Afghan criminal justice system to provide evidence for prosecution.

-- Improving communication directly with the Presidential Palace in Kabul.  Teams will now provide real-time video and/or intelligence directly into a joint International Security Assistance Force/Karzai office so as to avoid the situation when the president or his direct advisors do not know about the raids.

Some of these changes were first reported in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Ambassador on Taliban Talks: Less Here Than Meets the Eye

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, just back from Afghanistan, told reporters Friday at the State Department much is being made of so-called "high level" peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban leaders...but he says the talks are not really substantive.  Holbrooke said "There is less here than meets the eye."  

The ambassador did say there has been an increase, in low level fighters and commanders saying they want to talk

“Most of this is at the local level, individual provincial leaders, individual commanders with their units, a lot of these groups, if you know the history of Afghanistan, you will know were not hard-core ideological Taliban. They're independent groups who defend their local valley and move back and forth. And they're feeling the pressure.”

Holbrooke said the Afghan government will put forth its new rules on security contractors November 15th.  Its been a controversial matter and Holbrooke said that was largely because the international community did not take Afghan President Hamid Karzai seriously when he raised the issue in the past.  There were concerns a change in the rules would put citizens working under private contracts as security providers at risk without military protection.

Holbrooke said the issue of Iran funneling money to the Afghan government did not come up in his talks there.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Afghan Government Softens Ban on Private Security Firms

Photo Courtesy - Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The Afghan government issued a statement Sunday softening President Hamid Karzai's proposal to disband all private security firms.  Karzai's office now decrees that "private security firms that have the responsibility of providing security to embassies, movements of foreign diplomats, foreign embassies’ residences, international military bases and weapons depots can continue to operate."

The ban, introduced in August, was created to break up all private security firms by Jan. 1 to "prevent security irregularities" and avoid the "exploitation of arms, military equipment, and uniforms."

Sunday's statement said the decision was a response to the concerns of foreign embassies and the commander of NATO forces.

The U.S. embassy said clarification is still needed for the groups that fall outside those listed.

“While we are encouraged by elements of the statement made today by the Afghan Government, there are still details to clarify and to work out,” a U.S. embassy spokesperson responded.  “Notably on how this will impact our development assistance and the implementing partners who help deliver that assistance.”

“Private security contractors are currently filling a critical gap to allow the United States and others in the international community to deliver assistance to the people who need it.  In coordination with our coalition partners, we are continuing to work urgently with the Afghan Government to further clarify implementation of this decree so that development and reconstruction efforts are not negatively affected,” the spokesperson added.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio