Saturday, December 09, 2006

Britain loses major ally in Helmand

The Times reports that the Governor of Helmand, Mohammed Daoud, has been sacked by President Karzai. The reasons for his dismissal are far from clear.

Engineer Daoud was appointed with strong British backing in January. He is seen as honest and not involved in drugs in a part of the world where both qualities are unusual commodities. He was also an outsider with no close link to any of the local tribes. Until a replacement is found the acting governor will be Daoud's deputy, Amir Muhammad Akhunzada, who could not be more different. One source quoted in The Times said: 'For the moment and before a new governor is named, the governor of Helmand is a drug-dealing warlord who was banned from the elections by the UN for keeping a militia and his connection to narcotics, and with whom the British have said they cannot work. Nice.'

Daoud had backed efforts to eradicate next year's poppy crop which is likely to equal or exceed this year's record-breaker, and the decision to remove him raises some awkward questions about President Karzai's priorities. Moreover, will the local peace agreements which Daoud negotiated hold?

No comments: