When the US needs to smooth over relations with Hamid Karzai, the State Department doesn’t get the call. Instead, the US is relying on the CIA’s Kabul station chief as its main go-between with the Afghan president, the Wall Street Journal reports, identifying the agent only by his nickname, “Spider.” Karzai has a close relationship with the spy, which became even more important when the only other American he trusted, Stanley McChrystal, was ousted in June.
“Karzai needs constant reassurance,” and Spider is his “security blanket,” according to an ex-colleague. But the CIA often clashes with the State Department, and officials say the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, despises the station chief, objecting to his return to Kabul last fall. One former military official worries that relying on Karzai’s personal friendship with one man is “becoming a substitute for a political approach to the Afghan government that is really missing.”