Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
In order to understand the reasons behind President Karzai’s policy initiatives, one must first recognize his two motivations. Since Hamid Karzai’s presidential term is scheduled to end in 2014 following the upcoming Afghan presidential elections, the president is interested in remaining in power until that time and ensuring safe passage for him and his family out of the country once his term ends. Every policy initiative of the Karzai administration is, consequently, based on these two considerations.
Understanding these motivations gives some clarity to Kabul’s actions and also makes us better able to predict the Afghan government’s behavior. For example, consider Karzai’s agreement with the Obama administration’s plans for the early withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. The Afghan president knows that his security forces are nowhere near ready to take over the country’s security. However, he agreed to the Obama administration’s plans because NATO forces won’t leave until after the presidential elections, and he really doesn’t care what happens in Afghanistan after his departure.
Supporting the US administration also gives him two important and valuable concessions: US acquiescence on prisoner detentions and the removal of NATO military forces from Afghan villages. These will help increase Karzai’s image within Afghanistan and increase the chances of the survival of his administration until the elections.
Speaking of the latter and the incompetence of Afghan security forces, Karzai realizes the direct correlation between the presence of NATO troops and his survival. He also knows that the best way to maintain NATO troop presence until the elections is to support a security agreement that guarantees immunity for US troops. Well aware that an absence of such an agreement led to the departure of US troops from Iraq, Karzai knows that he should at least be seen to be working towards such an agreement. We should, therefore, expect a lot of bluster and effort from Karzai in this regard.
Karzai also needs the international community to support him once he leaves power because, otherwise, he and his family won’t be able to hold on to the loot they have plundered from Afghanistan. This provides more motivation for him to go along with NATO and also gives the international community a lever in its dealings with the Afghan president.
In conclusion, Karzai’s interest in the presidency and his long-term safety means he will agree to everything the international community proposes provided those requests don’t hurt his image in Afghanistan. Its up to the western governments to decide how much they want to push the Afghan president and what they want from him during and after the end of his term.