Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Afghanistan Today: Karzai, Reconciliation, and Western Strategy

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Afghanistan Today: Karzai, Reconciliation, and Western Strategy

Article excerpt

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has internalized the international community's deepening mistrust of his leadership, according to expert Martine van Bijlert, who spoke at the New America Foundation's June 29 event on "Afghanistan Today."

"He's been talked up as a strong leader," she pointed out, "but deep down there's this mistrust."

Co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, an NGO based in Kabul, Bijlert discussed the reconciliation process in the context of Karzai's role and the global community's policies.

When the international community declared its support for the Afghan government during the reconciliation process, she said, "we put ourselves in a straightjacket." According to Bijlert, an "independent international presence" could have taken on a larger role as a broker in the peace process.

As it stands, she said, "the population who suffers from the insurgency, possibly even the fighters" will not be included in the reconciliation. When asked what could be done to ameliorate the situation, Bijlert recommended that government officials be urged to stop tribal targeting. Parliament, she argued, while having "a level of independence" and the potential to enforce accountability during the peace process, also has a "level of randomness" and is "very much a part of the patronage system. …

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