Martin C. Evans

Corruption may push Afghanistan to civil war, Cong. Israel says

In War in Afghanistan on January 4, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Ahmed Karzai, brother to the Afghan president, has been linked to the opium trade, CIA payroll.

Afghanistan may slide toward civil war if upcoming parliamentary elections are just as corrupt as last year’s presidential contest, Congressman Steve Israel told a group of veterans leaders today.

Israel, back from a 2-day visit to Afghanistan last month, also likened the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to a gangster extortionist. He said Ahmed Wali Karzai, believed to be a key player in the opium trade, has a contract to provide security at a U.S. military airfield in Kandahar.

“We’re paying protection money to the corrupt brother of the Afghan president so that ‘bad things don’t happen’ at Kandahar airport?” Israel said during a Monday morning talk before an audience at his Hauppauge district office. The audience  included local veterans leaders as well as the Adjutant General for the State of New York, Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Taluto.

Israel said he wants President Karzai to postpone parliamentary elections scheduled this spring until anti-fraud voting measures can be put in place, but that the Afghan leader dismissed his suggestion during a meeting in Kabul.

Israel said he would have to reconsider his support for President Obama’s 30,000 troop surge into Afghanistan if the parliamentary election incurs the same massive voter fraud that apparently helped Hamid Karzai prevail in last year’s presidential contest.

Israel also said the Pakistan government has not taken seriously the Taliban’s use of Pakisan’s lawless western region as a launching pad for attacks into Afghanistan.

“That government has shown zero willingness to get serious about the problem,” Israel said.

Deborah Soehngen, a Lake Grove resident whose son has served two tours in Iraq, said she appreciated Israel’s update.

“I found his candor refreshing as to what is going on over there because these are not things I know about,” she said of Israel’s talk. “The potential for my son to go to Afghanistan is high.”

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