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Peter Galbraith

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Peter Galbraith (1950-) is a U.S. diplomat who was assigned to UNAMA, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, who brought up extensive fraud in the 2009 Afghanistan presidential election and eventually left his post, in late 2009, under disputed circumstances. In April 2010, Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, accused him of creating election fraud.[1]

Galbraith is seen as close to senior U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke and Obama Administration envoy to "AfPak", and had served as U.S. Ambassador to Croatia between 1993 and 1998. While Eide and Galbraith were personally close, Eide having introduced him to the Norwegian anthropologist who would become his wife, Eide was reported to have wanted a European deputy. Eide was reported to have a stormy relationship with Holbrooke. [2]

Karzai allegations

Four days after President Barack Obama's March 2010 visit to Karzai, and two days after the lower house of the Afghan parliament had refused to ratify Karzai's proposals for changes to the independent election monitoring commission, Karzai said the United Nations and international media, as well as Galbraith and Philippe Morillon, a former French general and the head of the European Union vote-monitoring mission, were conspiring against them. His speech did not charge the United States directly.

He said the foreign efforts were intended to marginalize him, and named Galbraith of orchestrating fraud and attempting to bribe election officials. Galbraith responded to the Washington Post, that when he first heard that Karzai was accusing him of organizing voter fraud, he thought it "must be an April Fools' joke. Karzai is unhinged if he expects anyone to believe such a bizarre accusation," Galbraith wrote in an e-mail. "It underscores why he is not likely to reform and therefore cannot be a credible partner." [1]

"Foreigners will make excuses, they do not want us to have a parliamentary election," Karzai said. "They want parliament to be weakened and battered and for me to be an ineffective president, and for parliament to be ineffective." Reuters reported that Abdullah Abdullah, runner-up in the Presidential election, called Karzai's "populist, anti-foreigner" remarks as directed to domestic audiences, but questioned Karzai's "well-being" and the president was losing his grip, even telling reporters he feared for Karzai's "well being." "Look at the very, very small window of opportunity which is left -- which is the presence of the international community and they still have the commitment to help Afghanistan. And then you have a leader talking in that sense?"[3]


See also: 2009 Afghanistan presidential election
Galbraith had been the deputy chief of UNAMA, left Afghanistan over disagreements with UNAMA chief Kai Eide.[4] Galbraith wanted major recounts while Eide felt more limited recounts were adequate. In October, Galbraith went public.
Before firing me last week from my post as his deputy special representative in Afghanistan, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon conveyed one last instruction: Do not talk to the press. In effect, I was being told to remain a team player after being thrown off the team. Nonetheless, I agreed. [5]

Galbraith, however, said he agreed to one reason being announced: "Alain LeRoy, the head of U.N. peacekeeping and my immediate superior in New York, proposed that the United Nations say I was being recalled over a "disagreement as to how the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) would respond to electoral fraud." Although this was not entirely accurate -- the dispute was really about whether the U.N. mission would respond to the massive electoral fraud -- I agreed." but not to what the UN actually said, which triggered his public statements: "Instead, the United Nations announced my recall as occurring "in the best interests of the mission," and U.N. press officials told reporters on background that my firing was necessitated by a 'personality clash' with Eide, a friend of 15 years who had introduced me to my future wife. "


After the end of major combat in the Iraq War, he worked as an private and unpaid adviser to the Kurds, although he may receive very substantial financial returns.In 2004-2005, he worked in the Constitutional definition process, which made them semiautonomous, including "clauses that he maintains will give the Kurds virtually complete control over all new oil finds on their territory. As it turns out, he received the rights after he helped negotiate a potentially lucrative contract that allowed the Norwegian oil company DNO to drill for oil in the promising Dohuk region of Kurdistan." [6] The New York Times reported an arbitrator decided that DNO owed payments on the matter, which could range from $12 to $144 million, to negotiators of the agreement. Galbraith says his company is no longer directly involved but does have a claim to some of this. [7]


The son of economist John Kenneth Galbraith, he was, from 1979 until 1993, on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with major responsibilities for the Near East and South Asia and the Foreign Relations Authorization legislation.[8]

He demonstrated Saddam Hussein’s persecutions of the Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s, leading to sanctions legislation against Iraq and later contributing to the decision to create a safe-haven for the Kurds. Pakistan presented him with a high civilian award, the Sitari-i-Quad-Azam, for achievement in human rights.


  • A.B. from Harvard College
  • M.A. from Oxford University
  • J.D. from Georgetown University


  1. 1.0 1.1 Joshua Partlow and Scott Wilson (2 April 2010), "Karzai rails against foreign presence, accuses West of engineering voter fraud", Washington Post
  2. "Peter Galbraith will take key UN role in Afghanistan 'civilian surge'", The Times, 29 March 2009
  3. Peter Graff (2 April 2010), "Karzai outburst exposes Kabul's rift with West", Reuters
  4. Ed Johnson (16 September 2009), "UN Mission Split Over How to Deal With Afghan Election Fraud", Bloomberg
  5. Peter W. Galbraith (4 October 2009), "What I Saw at the Afghan Election", Washington Post
  6. "Times Topics > People > G > Galbraith, Peter W", New York Times, 19 December 2009
  7. Walter Gibbs (26 January 2010), "Oil Company Near Settling Over Contract in Kurdistan", New York Times
  8. Former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia, U.S. Embassy to Croatia