Scrambling to shore up voter support for next month’s presidential election, Afghan President Hamid Karzai today laid out his platform. Among other things Karzai promised, if reelected, to make the international forces in the nation sign a framework regulating how they operate, particularly in an effort to limit civilian casualties.
Karzai faces a difficult balancing act in his campaign. His popularity has largely come from ongoing criticism of US and other forces for enormous civilian casualties in air strikes, but his inability to do anything about it to this point has harmed his credibility.
Likewise, his condemnation has raised tensions with the US, and the Obama Administration has hoped to see him replaced with a less critical president. That tension has also led the US to emphasize accusations of corruption, which have harmed Karzai’s image.
With the United States having given Iraq’s government considerable control over its operations in that nation, it is unsurprising that the other government dealing with a massive US military presence would also want at least some measure of control over them. Yet with the US changing strategies in Afghanistan every few months in the face of growing violence and President Obama making the escalation a centerpiece of his foreign policy, it seems unlikely the US will be willing to accept Karzai’s demands, even if he is reelected.