Karzai surrounding himself with anti-US advisersSee also the Guardian's June 23 report, US pullout from Afghanistan signals new power struggle in fragile nation. The highlights:
By Kathy Gannon
KABUL, Afghanistan – President Hamid Karzai is increasingly isolated and has surrounded himself with an inner circle of advisers who are urging him to move closer to Iran and Pakistan as the U.S. draws down its role in Afghanistan, several friends and aides tell The Associated Press.
Their advice is echoed in Karzai's anti-West rhetoric, which has heightened both in his public speeches and in private. He met recently with Iran's defense minister, and constantly cautions against trusting the U.S. to have Afghanistan's best interests at heart.
"A lot of Afghans are very concerned about the direction the country is taking, moving away from the international community ... toward a more conservative practice in which the religious people and warlords have more power," Human Rights of Afghanistan Commissioner Nader Nadery said.
"Consistently his aides are pushing him toward Iran and Pakistan," Nadery said. "All those who are managing and controlling his schedule, providing appointments, all see the advantages of breaking with the international community."
In part, Nadery blamed Karzai's disappointment at not getting a strategic forces agreement with the United States that would allow for U.S. bases in Afghanistan as well as give the president protection and negotiation room with Washington. Instead, the document the U.S. gave to Karzai spoke only of a complete withdrawal, he said.
The United States has said it will have all its fighting forces out of Afghanistan by 2014 and that the security of Afghanistan will be turned over to Afghan forces. The U.S. has not asked for any bases or centers to remain under its control.
"I think the reality of their complete withdrawal has struck home," Nadery said. "Now he sees they may go and they don't want a (military) presence here, there were no bases that they requested and perhaps now he is thinking, `Who will protect me?' And he has turned to Hizb-i-Islami and conservative elements in the country like those on the Ulema (clerics) Council, former warlords, as well as getting closer to Pakistan and to Iran."
• Fears peace talks will see Taliban return to power
• Pakistan, India, Russia and China jockey for position
And if anyone's interested in more of the Obama administration's blither about Pakistan:
June 23, 2011 -(Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Pakistan on Thursday that U.S. military aid could suffer if Islamabad failed to address rising U.S. doubts over its commitment to fighting Islamist militants.The official, declared state policy of Pakistan is that terrorism is a legitimate tool of war.
Clinton told a Senate panel that the Obama administration viewed Pakistan as a crucial partner as it seeks to wind down the U.S.-led war in neighboring Afghanistan and vanquish al Qaeda and other militant groups.
But under skeptical questioning from U.S. lawmakers, Clinton said Washington remained concerned that Pakistan's actions were sometimes not lining up with its words -- and that it could affect the billions of dollars in annual U.S. aid to Pakistan.
"When it comes to our military aid, we are not prepared to continue providing that at the pace we were providing it unless and until we see some steps taken," Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
She didn't specify the steps, but stressed it was time for the United States and Pakistan -- which saw relations deeply strained after U.S. special forces raided a Pakistani compound in May to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden -- to ensure they are on the same page.
"On one side of the ledger are a lot of actions that we really disapprove of and find inimical to our values and even our interests," Clinton said.
"Then on the other side of the ledger there are actions that are very much in line with what we are seeking and want. So we're constantly balancing and weighing that."[...]
The regime has repeatedly used the tool against unarmed civilians, repeatedly used it to fight undeclared wars, and used it as a foreign policy tool. So what does it say about the United States of America that instead of declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, in the face of overwhelming evidence going back decades that it does indeed use terrorism as a tool of war, the U.S. regime blithers about values and balancing a ledger?