Karzai partners Afghan warlord

IssueJune 2009
News by Gabriel Carlyle

Hamid Karzai has selected Mohammad Qasim Fahim – “one of the most notorious warlords in [Afghanistan], with the blood of many Afghans on his hands from the civil war” (according to Human Rights Watch) – as one of his two vice-presidential candidates in the August elections.

Human Rights Watch identified Fahim as a key commander in the February 1993 Afshar massacre, when about 800 members of the Shia Hazara minority were killed in Kabul. An international official in Kabul has reported that Fahim is linked to kidnap gangs operating in the capital.

In his 2008 book Descent into Chaos, Ahmed Rashid notes that, following the 2001 invasion: “The unstated US strategy was to leave Karzai ineffectual in the capital, protected by foreign forces, while relying on war lords to keep Pax Americana in the countryside.… By following such a strategy, the United States left everything in place from the Taliban era except for the fact of regime change.”

Over half of the members of the Afghan parliament are linked to armed groups or have records of past human rights abuses, notes Human Rights Watch.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has replaced the top American general in Afghanistan (David McKiernan) with lieutenant general Stanley McChrystal, who as head of Special Operations between 2003 and 2008, oversaw a secretive program to hunt down and assassinate suspected “terrorists” around the globe (DN!, 12 May).

McChrystal is reported to have given personal assurances to US torturers at Camp Nama in Iraq that there was no way that the Red Cross could get in to inspect the camp.

Topics: Afghanistan