The Bush and Obama Administrations have been feuding with Afghan President Hamid Karzai for so long that one would think the end of his final term in office, just six months away, would be a source of relief. But what comes next has many officials concerned.
Karzai often relied on anti-NATO speeches to prop up his flagging polling numbers, and NATO looked the other way at much of the corruption that underpinned his administration, even though they criticized corruption as such in broad terms.
But the recent polls show Abdullah Abdullah, a long-time crusader against Karzai-era corruption, as the front-runner, and his election could mean legal recriminations against Karzai’s allies, and embarrassing publicity for the sorts of things the US has chosen to look the other way on.
As the election nears, Karzai may even go the same route as he did in 2009, rigging the elections against Abdullah, and potentially in favor of his elder brother, Baltimore restauranteur Qayyum Karzai. That would protect the Karzai administration, at least for now, but would add further doubts to the validity of an Afghan election process that is among the most corrupt in human history.
The other eight candidates don’t look any more promising, a collection of corrupt politicians and warlords, and any of them looks to bring plenty of headaches to US-Afghan relations when they take office.