Afghanistan: December 22, 2001


The new interim Afghan government was sworn in. Interim president Hamid Karzai speaks fluent English and has brothers and a sister who live in America and are naturalized American citizens. Karzai was escorted into Afghanistan in October by a team of U.S. special forces. The U.S. troops acted as bodyguards, liaison with the U.S. government. The special forces were also there to call in air support as needed, and this was used to fight off Taliban attempts to kill Karzai. The new president the head of the Popalzai tribe, and related to the former king. Karzai's father was also head of the tribe and a prominent Afghan politician and anti-Taliban. As a result, the family fled to Pakistan when the Taliban took over. Taliban assassins later killed the father, and Hamid Karzai earned widespread respect by fearlessly leading a convoy back to Kandar to bury his father. The Taliban troops stood aside for this, fearing an uprising by the Popalzai tribe if they interfered. 

Hamid Karzai is seen as "owned by the foreigners," but is also recognized as an effective politician. As a Pushtun tribal leader, he also has the support of the largest ethnic group in the country. Most of the ministers in the new government are Pushtuns, although the key posts are held by non-Pushtuns. The swearing in was attended by over 2,000 tribal chiefs, elders and other notables. Karzai diligently schmoozed them all. 


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