11 July 2010

Karzai Being "Helpful" Again

Yep, our favorite head of state is at odds with our plan to save his country for him.

Senior U.S. officials say that the United States would like to expand the program to about two dozen sites across Afghanistan, double the current number, and are hoping to overcome Karzai's concerns. But the issue is delicate to many who fear that such experiments could lead Afghanistan further into warlordism and out-of-control militias.

The U.S. initiative was developed under Petraeus's predecessor, ousted Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, although Petraeus has been a strong supporter of such programs. When Petraeus commanded the Iraq war, U.S. forces partnered with tens of thousands of civilian guards, including former insurgents, who fought against the group al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Despite his tensions with other U.S. officials, McChrystal formed a close working relationship with Karzai. The question of whether Petraeus can replicate that bond remains a significant uncertainty hanging over the war effort.

"We always have long meetings and many arguments," said a senior Afghan official who was present at Karzai's meeting with Petraeus. "We always try to teach our foreign partners how to deal with a situation like this. We Afghans know better than you."

In his first week on the job, Petraeus has met with Karzai three times and discussed many topics. But on at least one issue, the village defense forces, the general has run into resistance from Karzai. The policy would give the United States and the Interior Ministry authority to pursue a variety of programs, including expanding the pilot projects that give uniforms and salaries to villagers trained by U.S. Special Operations forces.

By: Brant

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