Intelligence Matters: In Afghanistan, Karzai Ousts Interior Minister Hanif Atmar and Intelligence Chief Amrullah Saleh


Hamid Karzai has ousted the two top intelligence officials in his government, on the stated ground that they failed to prevent the Taliban attack on the peace jirga in Kabul last week. See Alissa J.Rubin, “Afghan Leader Forces Out Top 2 Security Officials,” New York Times,  June 6, 2010.

U.S. officials expressed surprise, she reported, as they said they had good working relationships with Hanif Atmar, the Interior minister, and Amrullah Saleh, the intelligence chief.

How this development may affect the coming U.S. offensive in Kandahar is not clear. 

AP reported the reaction of Karzai’s opponent in the August 20, 2009 first-round presidential elections as follows:

“I would say it’s a hasty and irrational decision by a president of Afghanistan who has deprived his own government of professional capacity to combat the insurgency,” Abdullah, a key Northern Alliance leader and former foreign minister, told The Associated Press. “The only party that will benefit is the Taliban.”
–Rahim Faiez and Matthew Pennington, “Karzai defends removal of Afghan security chiefs,” Associated Press, June 7, 2010.

See also the following articles:

Amanda Hodge, “Afghan security chiefs resign,” The Australian,
June 8, 2010

Abubakar Siddique, “Resignations Of Top Afghan Security Officials Have Broad Implications,” Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL),
June 8, 2010

June 6, 2010

Jon Boone, “Afghan interior minister and spy chief resign over jirga security breaches: Double resignation seen as ‘disaster’ for international efforts to improve country’s security and reform police force, ” The Guardian (,
June 6, 2010

Jonathan Burch “INTERVIEW-Afghan ex-intel chief says opposed Karzai peace plan,” Reuters, June 7, 2010

Karim Talibi (AFP), “Afghan resignations threaten US-led security drive,”
AFP / Google, June 7, 2010

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The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is an international lawyer who has taught innternational law, human rights, and comparative law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), and an international development practitioner who has worked on human rights and judicial reform projects in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and in Russia. He has also worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in Europe, the Middle East, throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Observer speaks fluent French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, in addition to English. He holds undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford University, and a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) in International Law from Harvard University. As an undergraduate, he studied modern European history at Stanford, where he won the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best honors thesis in history.

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