Afghan President Hamid Karzai today fired the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security. This move comes as a great surprise, as the NDS was credited with thwarting a recent Haqqani network attack on Kabul and a subsequent attack by another group of militants targeting Afghanistan’s Parliament. Complicating the effort to understand Karzai’s move is the fact that he is engaged in a battle with the Afghan Parliament. Karzai made a number of moves today that are sure to anger Parliament even further. Citing border incursions from Pakistan, Parliament voted earlier this month to remove the Defense and Interior Ministers. Today, Karzai reappointed the ousted Interior Minister as Defense Minister while at the same time announcing the firing the head of the National Directorate of Security. Parliament has vowed to support the ousted intelligence chief.
Reuters brings us the basics of Karzai’s moves today:
Afghan President Hamid Karzai filled gaps in two top security ministries on Wednesday as part of a reshuffle forced on him by a fractious parliament, but risked a destabilising row with lawmakers by reappointing a sacked minister.
Parliament, in a rebuff to Karzai, earlier this month voted to remove Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi over deteriorating security, corruption accusations clouding the government and cross-border attacks blamed on Pakistan.
But Karzai appointed Mohammadi, an ethnic Tajik with a strong powerbase in northern Afghanistan, as Defence Minister, while removing spy agency chief Rahmatullah Nabil, charged with countering the Taliban and cutting insider attacks by Afghan police and soldiers on foreign troops.
“Intelligence chiefs cannot serve more than two years. President Karzai called Nabil today and thanked him for his services,” Karzai’s chief spokesman Aimal Faizi told Reuters ahead of the announcement.
We get more on the politics of these moves from Khaama Press:
Afghan lawmakers on Wednesday criticized Afghan president Hamid Karzai for dismissing Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief Rahmatullah Nabeel from his position.
Farkhunda Zahra Naderi Afghan parliament member called Rahmatullah Nabil an effortful person and said neighboring intelligence agencies are behind the decision of president Hamid Karzai to dismiss Rahmatullah Nabeel.
Note the reference to “neighboring intelligence agencies” being behind Karzai’s move to fire Nabil. This is a very thinly veiled reference to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. I had previously noted that there were signs since the new ISI head Zaheer ul-Islam visited the US August 1-3 that important new intelligence information was flowing from ISI to the US. In fact, it seems to me that the sudden intelligence victories by Afghanistan’s NDS could well be explained by this new flow of information from ISI to the US (and then to NDS). Read more