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."
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.