Monday, April 5, 2010

Afghanistan: Another U.S. Ally Unhappy with Obama Administration

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By Barry Rubin

President Hamad Karzai has reportedly complained about the lack of U.S. support and is nervous about being abandoned (thrown under the bus, in current slang) by the Obama administration.  He has reportedly complained that the United States is interfering too much in Afghanistan's internal affairs. Karzai appears worried that U.S. policy is too open toward making a deal with the Taliban, or at least the "moderate" elements in it.

Yes, just as the administration is reaching out to Iran, Syria, Colombia, and others who are enemies of the United States, it is also hoping to "win over" some from the group that hosted Usama bin Ladin and turned Afghanistan into a hellish situation. Karzai is also no doubt miffed at some hints that he didn't win the election fairly, which are probably true but Obama saying so was taken as an insult.

Yes, when the United States criticizes an ally which it thinks dependent on Washington's backing--the only countries in the world that the Obama administration dare criticize or pressure nowadays--even a relatively "weak" country may not take it lying down.

Karzai then also dropped his own anti-American hints, saying according to the Wall Street Journal that the Taliban is only fighting because of the foreign presence, implying they like him but not America.

It should be remembered that President Barack Obama said things about Afghanistan that went beyond former President George W. Bush's optimism about Iraq. Obama said the United States was going to help build an effective Afghan army and an honest government, which sort of doesn't comprehend the nature of Afghanistan.

One is starting to wonder what country in the world really has a high opinion of America's leaders nowadays and feels it can depend on them for support or survival.  That confidence certainly isn't a widespread view in the moderate regimes of the Arabic-speaking world. I wouldn't bet on even the United Kingdom, France (President Sarkozy is on record saying some sharply critical things about his counterpart), or Germany.

How I wish I could stop writing this kind of article and talk about what a great job the Obama administration is doing! But it has to do something well in foreign policy first.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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