The exit of CIA director David Petraeus has major implications for the White House. In immediate terms, the ‘Benghazi wound’ is still open. The CIA reportedly advised the White House to plead initially that the murder of the US ambassador to Libya wasn’t a terrorist strike — an issue that raised dust in the last phase of Obama’s election campaign.
The House Homeland Security Committee in Washington will hold hearings next week. President Barack Obama’s best bet was that Petraeus would defend the Administration’s case and hopefully douse the fire. On the contrary, Republicans will now hope that Petraeus may spill the beans.
Petraeus’ departure would handicap the Obama administration when it comes to Afghanistan, where again his links to the Republican camp in the Congress helped Obama to defend the ‘surge’, which fell short of achieving durable results, but the Republicans chose to look away. Mitt Romney sidestepped the Afghan issue altogether.
Petraeus was an ardent proponent of the drone attacks on the tribal areas of Pakistan. He wasn’t particularly liked by Pakistani top brass. Thus, the fate of the drone attacks hangs in the balance, which is a point of discord in the US-Pak ties.
To be sure, a sigh of relief can be heard in the GHQ in Rawalpindi that Petraeus is no longer serving the Obama administration. This is happening at a crucial juncture when Obama is expected to ‘revisit’ the Afghan problem and the US’ relations with Pakistan.
Pakistan will pull all stops to see that Obama shows a spirit of accommodation and recognizes its centrality in the Afghan endgame. Influential voices are already audible arguing for an easing of US pressure on Pakistan.
– November 10, 2012