Kabul Tomorrow Unknown
Kandahar Tomorrow Sunny
Herat Tomorrow Unknown
Mazar-i-sharif Tomorrow Unknown
Ghazni Tomorrow Sunny
Jalalabad Tomorrow Sunny
Bamiyan Tomorrow Sunny
Zaranj Tomorrow Sunny
Mimana Tomorrow Sunny
The Killid Group
New figure, old politics in the PalaceWritten by Killid commentary
Monday, 04 April 2011 08:54
Months after he was accused of taking "cash bags" and promoting Iranian interests in the Presidential Palace, Umer Daudzai, the powerful Chief of Staff to President Hamid Karzai, has been sacked from his position and appointed as Kabul's ambassador to Islamabad.
Mr. Karzai firmly stood by his controversial aide despite strong domestic and external allegations that he was systematically manipulated and politically abused by Mr. Daudzai. As his closest aide and advisor, Daudzai had unrestricted and all-time access to President Karzai.
Kai Eide, a former UN envoy to Afghanistan, bluntly described Daudzai as an "unconstructive figure" while other Western diplomats had deep concerns about his alleged ties to Tehran. Since Daudzai's appointment as the Chief of Staff in 2006, President Karzai increasingly took confrontational positions towards Washington. However, ties between Karzai and Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad, Iran's President, grew stronger and firmer as both men exchanged several visits to Kabul and Tehran and adopted an almost united rhetoric.
In October 2010, the New York Times revealed that Iran was paying Karzai's office sacks full of cash and that Daudzai was the primary recipient. MPs and politicians urged President Karzai to provide accountability about the Iranian cash scandal but Mr. Karzai refused, strongly defended his notorious Chief of Staff and called him a "patriot". Daudzai conceded to receiving cash from Tehran on regular basis but said that the issue was "transparent" and that the Presidential Palace was accountable to Tehran for the spending.
Karim Khuram, former information minister, has been appointed as Daudzai's successor. Mr. Khuram was a commander of the Hezbe Islami during 1980-1990s and was widely regarded as a staunch opponent of free media during his tenure in the Information and Culture Ministry in 2006-2009. It is believed that Mr. Daudzai introduced Mr. Khuram to President Karzai as his successor due to their strong ideological bonds.
Meanwhile, prior to his departure to Islamabad as the new Afghan ambassador, Mr. Daudzai spent weeks to mentor and prepare Mr. Khuram for his new job. Although away, Daudzai has ensured that he would maintain access to President Karzai and his top agendas. Since taking the power over a decade ago, President Karzai has appointed his cabinet and other top government officials at the behest of various internal and external power brokers. Mr. Karzai has ensured that all former Jehadi factions have a fair stake in his government but has increasingly turned his back to other national forces.