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Hamid Karzai

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Hamid Karzai, "a powerful Pashtun leader from the Taleban's former stronghold of Kandahar, ... has led the country's interim government since December 2001. ... In June [2002], he was endorsed as head of state by Afghanistan's loya jirga or grand council." Karzai was "officially sworn in as President of Afghanistan on December 7, 2004." [1][2]

Karzai was born December 24, 1957, in Kandahar. "He attended Habibia High School in Kabul and earned a BA and MA in political science and international relations at Shimla University in India. His father was a political leader in the Afghan Parliament, and they are from the same clan as King Mohammed Zahir Shah. He fluently speaks Pashto, Dari, Urdu and English." [3]

US Connections

"Karzai was brought into the US fold long ago. In the 1980s, as the Afghan mujahideen were fighting Soviet occupiers, the smart-dressing, Quetta, Pakistan-based 'Gucci guerrilla', as American correspondents referred to Karzai's likes at the time, helped organize 'logistical support' (facilitating US weapons shipments). But much of his time then and later was also spent in the US where several of his brothers and a sister ran, and still run, 'Helmand' (a province west of Kandahar) brand Afghan restaurants in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Baltimore," Marc Erikson reported in the January 29, 2002, Asia Times.

"The man who spotted Karzai's leadership potential and recruited him to 'the fold' was then RAND (the Santa Monica, California think tank, mostly conducting contract research for the Pentagon) program director, now US National Security Council member and special Bush envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad. Like Karzai, Khalilzad is an ethnic Pashtun (born Mazar-i-Sharif, PhD University of Chicago). He headed Bush's defense department transition team, and served under present US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in the Reagan State and Bush I Defense Departments. Also like Karzai (whom Mullah Omar once asked to represent the Taliban at the UN), Khalilzad early on supported and urged engagement of the Taliban regime, only to drop such notions when the true nature of the regime became patently obvious by 1998. And one further thing both men have in common is that in 1996/97 they advised American oil company Unocal on the US$2 billion project of a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline. In 2000, Khalilzad invited Karzai to address a RAND seminar on Afghanistan; the same year, Karzai also testified before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and met periodically with Christina Rocca, then a Senate aide (to Kansas Republican Sen Sam Brownback), now the assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs. 'To us, he is still Hamid, a man we've dealt with for some time,' said a state department official.

"Such close connections to the US foreign policy, security and intelligence community lay Karzai open to the charge of being an American puppet - a dangerous charge in Afghanistan where leaders overly beholden to foreign regimes have not fared well, as the fate of Soviet-imposed ones attests. But Karzai has other credentials that put him in better stead, and to the extent he can bring in the bread (foreign aid and investment), he will likely be able to live down the 'American stooge' tag opponents are trying to pin on him."

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References

  1. Turquoise Mountain Mission, organizational web page, accessed April 6, 2012.