Martin C. Evans

Archive for the ‘War in Afghanistan’ Category

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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Cong. Israel backs McChrystal, but not Karsai

In War in Afghanistan on December 28, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Corruption riddles government of Afghan president Hamid Karzai

Long Island Congressman Steve Israel expressed a deep lack of confidence with Hamid Karzai after meeting with the Afghan president Monday, the first day of a two-day fact-finding tour of Afghanistan.

But Israel said his confidence in the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan was boosted by an hour-long meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces there.

“My faith and comfort level in the Karzai government has precipitously declined since I had an hour and a half meeting with him,” Israel said. “I don’t think he understands the importance of corruption… or the urgency of the need to train Afghani soldiers and police.”

“He didn’t inspire any sense of confidence that he understand the magnitude of the problem or is able to do anything about it,” Israel said. “He essentially blames the media. He seems to think the perception is worse than the reality.”

Israel’s visit, his fourth to the embattled country, is his first since President Barack Obama began putting his own stamp on the 8-year Afghanistan war this year by replacing the U.S. commander there and ordering an anti-insurgency troop surge.

Israel, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, is leading an 8-member congressional delegation to Afghanistan. Congress will soon begin grappling with new legislation that will govern spending for military action in Afghnanistan – spending that was running at about $3.6 billion per month before the surge began.

The visit comes amid concerns regarding the legitimacy and effectiveness of a Karzai government that has been riddled with corruption and which has been largely unable to extend government rule beyond the country’s capital.

Karzai prevailed in a runoff election this fall, after international observers said his success in an earlier round of balloting was the result of massive fraud.

Members of Karzai’s own family have been implicated in high-level drug dealing, in a country in which drug sales are a principal source of revenue for the insurgency.  An anti-drug mission in Afghanistan took the life of Staff Sergeant Keith Bishop, a Green Beret from Medford, who was killed in an Oct. 26 helicopter crash.

Israel said he shared with Karzai an article that appeared earlier this year in Long Island’s  Newsday reporting on corruption in Karzai’s administration, and said he worries that parliamentary elections coming this spring will represent a new opportunity for fraud.

“I told him ‘this is what my constituents are reading’,” Israel said.

“I’m concerned the American people are going to have a hard time continuing to devote dollars and soldiers to a country that will have had two flawed elections in the span of a few months,” Israel said.