The Cable

Galbraith: Eide was fired

Kai Eide, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan, was forcibly removed and did not resign voluntarily as he claims, according to his former deputy and "frenemy," Peter Galbraith.

"This was involuntary and inevitable, ever since the end of September," said Galbraith in an interview with The Cable.

Relaying information from his discussions with U.N. staff on the ground in Kabul, Galbraith said that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has made it clear that he wants to announce Eide's successor during January's London conference on Afghanistan.

Galbraith clearly has an axe to grind: Eide was instrumental in getting Galbraith fired from his post as second in command at the U.N. mission in Kabul earlier this year. The two formerly close friends had a very public dispute about the U.N.'s role in preventing and monitoring the massive fraud in the recent election of President Hamid Karzai.

"Kai's problem was that he valued his relationship with Karzai above all else, including having honest elections," Galbraith said. "He was so discredited by the way he handed the election and the fallout from engineering my ouster. He cut his own throat."

Moreover, Galbraith said that several senior staffers fled the U.N. mission in Kabul as a result of the election controversy. He also accused Eide of mishandling the security situation in Kabul, a serious charge considering that attacks there led to several deaths of U.N. staffers.

"I don't think he took all the precautions that he could have," said Galbraith without elaborating further.

Galbraith predicted that Eide would be replaced by Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura, who has served as the special representative for the U.N. secretary-general in Iraq.

"I don't think he has any relationship with President Karzai," Galbraith said of the Swede, "which will be good."

In Galbraith's view, the new U.N. leadership in Kabul will have a tough time rebuilding Afghan confidence in the United Nations, and the Obama administration will have a tough time fulfilling its pledge to push Karzai toward more accountability.

"There has to be a harder line, but the problem is it's still Karzai and he's been demonstrably ineffective at combating corruption," he said. "It's difficult to see how a harder line will fix that."

The Cable

Clinton: "Sanctions can work"

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued to make the argument for multilateral sanctions against Iran today, another sign of the administration's changing rhetoric on Iran in anticipation of a shift toward the "pressure track" early next year.

Answering questions following her bilateral meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos today, she characterized the announcement that North Korea was caught shipping 35 tons of banned weapons through Thailand as a success for the multilateral sanctions regime.

"I think the actions by the Thai government to detain the plane that is apparently carrying significant amounts of weapons demonstrates the importance of international solidarity behind the sanctions that were adopted at the United Nations earlier this year. It shows sanctions can work. It shows that sanctions can prevent the proliferation of weapons. And it shows that the international community, when it stands together, can make a very strong statement regarding what we expect from a state like North Korea," Clinton said.

Of course, the weapons seizure isn't good news for those who saw a thawing in relations with North Korea following the trip there by Amb. Stephen Bosworth last week. But Clinton said that the DPRK was liable to continue to try to violate the weapons export ban imposed by U.N. Security Council resolution 1874.

She also couldn't resist spinning the news into a call to allied countries for cooperation with the U.S. in enforcing whatever Iran sanctions might be put forth.

"We were very pleased to see the strong action taken by the Thais. And it would not have been possible without strong action of the United Nations, and I think there's a lesson there for people around the world to see when it comes to Iran," she said.

Interestingly, the two bills moving through Congress this week are focused on unilateral sanctions that have international consequences. For example, the Iran sanctions legislations sponsored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-CT, would punish international corporations that export refined petroleum products to Iran, but would allow the president to waive those measures for countries and companies that support the U.S. sanctions.

The administration sent a letter Friday to Senators asking them to hold that bill until the new year. The administration is said to be negotiating with Dodd and others so that cooperating countries and companies would be automatically exempt from penalties as to not require a presidential waiver.

A House bill focused on refined petroleum products to Iran, led by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman, D-CA, is expected to be passed this week.