Morning Brief: What’s Karzai’s game?

Top Story Opponents and international observers are crying foul over President Hamid Karzai’s deicision on Saturday to move Afghanistan’s presidential election up to April from its original date in August. Karzai’s opponent Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai says he will not participate in “sham elections” that will lead to a “Zimbabwe-type arrangement.” NATO has warned of greatly ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
588132_090302_karzai5.jpg
588132_090302_karzai5.jpg

Top Story

Opponents and international observers are crying foul over President Hamid Karzai's deicision on Saturday to move Afghanistan's presidential election up to April from its original date in August. Karzai's opponent Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai says he will not participate in "sham elections" that will lead to a "Zimbabwe-type arrangement."

NATO has warned of greatly increased security risks for the earlier poll and the U.S. says it still prefers the original timetable.

Top Story

Opponents and international observers are crying foul over President Hamid Karzai’s deicision on Saturday to move Afghanistan’s presidential election up to April from its original date in August. Karzai’s opponent Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai says he will not participate in “sham elections” that will lead to a “Zimbabwe-type arrangement.”

NATO has warned of greatly increased security risks for the earlier poll and the U.S. says it still prefers the original timetable.

Karzai’s presidential term ends on May 21, so the president is on solid ground constitutionally, but none of the other candidates are remotely ready to campaign by April and the move is widely seen as a bid to hold onto power.

Middle East

Only a third of the U.S.’s pledged $900 million Palestinian aid will go to Gaza.

Iran is “not close” to a nuclear weapon, says Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Adm. Mike Mullen feels differently.

Abu Dhabi may be thinking twice about its investment in Citibank.

Africa

The president of Guinea-Bissau has been assassinated. It is suspected that soldiers blamed him for the killing of the country’s army chief on Sunday night.

The U.N. says Hutu rebels are retaking positions abandoned by retreating Rwandan troops in eastern Congo.

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe threw a party to celebrate his 85th birthday. His nemesis, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, did not attend.

Americas

Struggling U.S. insurance giant AIG has broken records with a $61.7 billion fourth-quarter loss. More government money is on the way.

Barack Obama will announce Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as his pick for secretary of health and human services today.

Two thousand Mexican troops entered Ciudad Juarez to help contain out-of-control drug violence in the city near the U.S. border.

Asia

North Korea and the U.N. command held talks in the demilitarized zone as nuclear tensions on the peninsula continued to build.

A suspected U.S. drone attack killed 8 in Pakistan’s Waziristan region.

Europe

The EU rejected a plan for a coordinated financial aid package for Central Europe.

Russian President Dmitry Medevedev wants specifics from Obama on missile defense.

The New York Times reports that Ukraine’s government is teetering under the pressure of the financial crisis.

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.