Ex-U.N. envoy: Karzai may have drug problem

Tuesday, Apr 6, 2010  |  Updated 3:45 PM EDT
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Ex-U.N. Envoy: Karzai May Have Drug Problem

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Peter Galbraith, a former U.N envoy to Afghanistan, questions the "mental stability" of Hamid Karzai and suggests the Afghan president may have a drug problem.

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NEW YORK - A former U.N envoy to Afghanistan on Tuesday questioned the "mental stability" of Hamid Karzai and suggested the Afghan president may be using drugs.

In an interview on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown," Peter Galbraith described Karzai as "off-balance" and "emotional." Galbraith also called for President Barack Obama to vastly limit Karzai’s power to appoint officials within the war-torn country until he proves himself a reliable partner to the U.S.

"He’s prone to tirades. He can be very emotional, act impulsively. In fact, some of the palace insiders say that he has a certain fondness for some of Afghanistan’s most profitable exports," aid Galbraith, in an apparent reference to opium or heroin.

When asked whether he meant Karzai has a substance abuse problem, Galbraith responded: "There are reports to that effect. But whatever the cause is, the reality is that he is — he can be very emotional."

Galbraith was interviewed via telecast from Norway.

An e-mail to the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington requesting a response was not immediately returned.

Galbraith was fired by the United Nations in September as the U.N.'s No. 2 official in Afghanistan after he openly accused his boss, Kai Eide, of concealing election fraud that benefited the campaign of the incumbent president. Eide angrily denied the accusation.

 

'Very strange'
Karzai raised eyebrows most recently when he reportedly said at a closed meeting with selected Afghan lawmakers Saturday that he might quit the political process and join the Taliban if he continued to come under outside pressure to reform.

Karzai made the statement just days after he suggested foreigners were behind fraud in last year's disputed elections. He even accused Galbraith, the deputy chief of the U.N. mission to Afghanistan before he was fired by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Philippe Morrillon, a retired French military officer who headed an EU vote-monitoring mission, of rigging the election.

The string of troubling statements by Karzai has prompted the White House to consider canceling the Afghan leader's May 12 visit to Washington to meet with Obama.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday that "we certainly would evaluate whatever continued or further remarks President Karzai makes as to whether that's constructive to have such a meeting, sure."

Asked if Karzai is an ally of the U.S., Gibbs would only refer to him as the democratically elected leader of Afghanistan. He said Karzai's claims that the West was to blame for the fraud in Afghanistan's presidential election were untrue.

"The remarks he made, I can't imagine that anybody in this country found them anything other than troubling," Gibbs said.

Galbraith, an American who has frequently criticezed Karzai, called Karzai's recent comments "very strange" and his "continued tirade raises questions about his mental stability." He said Obama's strategy to flood the volatile country with more U.S. troops won't work with Karzai in charge.

"If our troops cannot accomplish the mission, even if the mission's important, if it cannot be accomplished because we don’t have the reliable partner, then why should they be there?" Galbraith said. "It is a waste of very precious military resources — precious in terms of the money and precious in terms of lives."
 

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