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Hamid Karzai

26 - Hamid Karzai
President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
At first a darling, now seen as ungrateful, irascible and erratic, Karzai has been irritating American leaders for years. His term expires in April. Few expect him to go quietly; rather, he will keep wielding influence for years to come — assuming he survives in a country not known for treating former leaders well. Despite enormous pressure from Washington and his own tribal elders, Karzai has refused to sign the status-of-forces deal that will keep about 10,000 American troops in the country after the end of next year. He says he’ll do so after April elections, but US officials have given him until no later than February to do so. Karzai is convinced US officials won’t abandon him, a dangerous calculation given that the Obama administration walked out on Iraq after officials refused to sign a deal unless American troops could be prosecuted under Iraqi law. There remains an overarching fear that, like in Iraq, Washington may have spent a trillion dollars and a dozen years to stabilize a country that may fall apart unless large numbers of US troops remain engaged for many more years to come. 

Afghanistan Policy Middle East