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KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sacked five provincial governors, including a key Western ally in one of the most turbulent battlegrounds of the south, officials said Thursday.

Government insiders said the move was part of efforts to reform and fight corruption, but the dismissal of Mohammad Gulab Mangal in Helmand province could ruffle British and US allies who considered him an important ally against the Taliban.

Mangal was sacked for "political reasons," according to a senior official in Karzai's office.

"He had lots of unnecessary relations, close relations with the foreigners which the president didn't like. He was suspected to be involved in corruption," the official said, on condition of anonymity.


The government replaced Mangal, a former army colonel, with army General Naeem Baloch, an adviser to the country’s spy agency and more closely allied to Karzai’s inner circle amid recent strains between Karzai and his international backers.

“General Naeem Baloch who has great working experience and efficiency in administrative affairs has been appointed as new governor of Helmand,” Ferdous said.

The changes affected 10 provinces including Nimroz and Badghis in the west, Faryab and Baghlan in the north, central Wardak, Helmand in the southwest and the capital, Kabul.


U.S. and coalition officials said rumors had surfaced in recent months about Gov. Mangal's imminent removal, particularly as he grew in stature. The governor's staff first learned about the dismissal through a Facebook posting, his spokesman said.

Wall Street Journal

The changes come in advance of elections which are due in 2014. Mr Mangal has been tipped as a possible contender for the leadership.


Another four governors were reshuffled between the provinces of Faryab and Takhar in the north, and Laghman and Logar, adjacent to Kabul.

Radio Free Europe

Karzai's leadership clean-up amounts to the dismissal of figureheads in almost a third of the country's provinces.

The move has been interpreted as an attempt by the country's president to demonstrate to foreign donors that he is serious about cracking down on corruption and nepotism.

Deutsche Welle

A bigger problem is Karzai’s decision Thursday to fire the pro-U.S. governor of Helmand province, Mohammad Gulab Mangal, who has long been viewed as one of the nation’s best leaders.

He stood alongside a U.S. general in July for a press conference that was piped in to the Pentagon from Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province. Mangal said he wasn’t concerned about the pullout of U.S. troops. “Taliban will try their best disrupt the security situation,” he said. “But now ANSF — Afghan national security forces — are at the level that they can maintain the security of the Helmand province.”

Karzai’s office didn’t detail why the president ousted Mangal, who holds an appointed, not elected, office. U.S. officials suggested Karzai may have viewed him as a political threat, and that his canning is part of the messy business of trying to build a more democratic government. Its impact on the Taliban in Helmand remains an open question.


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Comment Preferences

  •  The Phrase (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, Garrett

    "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic" comes to mind

    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

    by EdMass on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 02:19:14 PM PDT

    •  Usually, Karzai does that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OLinda, wilderness voice

      When a governor is sacked, they actually just get rearranged. The provinces just move around.

      Our guy in Helmand, though. It looks like he is out.

      It's partly poppy-eradication politics. The Helmand ex-Governor was a strong eradication advocate. And eradication just the prime opportunity for corruption. You can't eradicate it all. You pick and choose. Very profitable. And very unliked.

      News stories aren't linking the story to the U.S. announcement about suspending some joint U.S./Afghan operations. But the timing sure makes it look that way. Karazai is loosing some U.S. military support that he is absolutely dependent on. So he's shoring up some support by installing his not our governor.

  •  About Sacking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's kind of amusing, that in a news story about Karzai sacking five governors, they can just say, "Karzai sacked five governors."

    I did see one news story, googling about, where they used more dignified language. "Karzai appoints five new governors."

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