Karzai's life is split between Baltimore and his native Afghanistan
March 10, 2015 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Last September, Hamid Karzai, the outgoing president of Afghanistan, made a number of disparaging remarks about U.S. involvement in that country. “America did not want peace for Afghanistan because it had its own agendas and goals here,” he said after pointedly leaving the U.S. out of the group of countries he thanked for helping during the course of his largely U.S.-backed administration. John Oliver, the former “Daily Show” correspondent, responded on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” by reading a series of negative Yelp reviews of The Helmand, one of the four Baltimore restaurants owned by Qayum Karzai, the president’s older brother. “It was a funny joke,” Qayum says, pulling up in front of the restaurant in what he calls his “mujahideen Jeep—because you can only jump in and jump out.” “They did not do their due diligence,” he adds. “It is known to everybody that my politics is not the same as my brother. I’m sorry that [Oliver] is thinking about collective guilt. My brother is a different person.”
posted by josher71 (24 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Helmand is actually a pretty decent restaurant. Yelp gives it 4 stars, and, having eaten there myself, I'd say it deserves them. Qayum has certainly done more for Baltimore than his brother did for Afghanistan.
posted by ubiquity at 8:22 AM on March 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


Don't they also own the Helmand in SF? (which is also pretty tasty)
posted by psoas at 8:29 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


They apparently own The Helmand in Boston (Cambridge) as well. (which is also also pretty tasty). It seems to be run by another brother, Mahmood.
posted by maryr at 8:34 AM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, say what you will about the government of Afghanistan, the Helmands (both Cambridge and Baltimore) are fine restaurants. The one in Baltimore is pretty near Penn Station, and whenever I'm heading out by Amtrak I stop and get an aushak for the train.
posted by escabeche at 8:41 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I adore the Helmand in Cambridge. Amazing food.

Also, whatever else you might say about Karzai, is saying that America had its own agendas and goals in Afghanistan really such a controversial statement? In the mainstream media, sure, but is that really so crazy to the average MeFite?
posted by peacheater at 8:46 AM on March 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


That seems unusually... sloppy of Oliver. He usually targets public figures or at least people who are trying to screw over other people. Picking on a guy like that, and especially implicitly encouraging Yelp sabotage of his restaurants is pretty nasty 'humor'.
posted by tavella at 8:46 AM on March 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


That seems unusually... sloppy of Oliver.
That's my reaction, too. It seems like an odd mistake to be made by Oliver and his staff.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:00 AM on March 10, 2015


Mahmud Karzai owned the Helman Palace in San Francisco, but apparently does not any longer. Not sure if another family member took it over.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:02 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


John Oliver can have a bit of a mean streak.
posted by svenni at 9:04 AM on March 10, 2015


I haven't been to the Helmand yet but there's a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket.

Afghan cuisine is really wonderful and somewhat underrepresented in the US, which is a shame, I could happily eat aushak every day for the rest of my life.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:13 AM on March 10, 2015


The Helmand is an exquisite dining experience. I've been to the Baltimore location. Check it out!
posted by Renoroc at 9:16 AM on March 10, 2015


Kaddo bowrani (pumpkin with garlic yogurt) or GTFO.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:16 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jeez, Karzai Talk even here on the Blue. T-Shirts available now.
posted by Rash at 9:24 AM on March 10, 2015


That seems unusually... sloppy of Oliver.
That's my reaction, too. It seems like an odd mistake to be made by Oliver and his staff.


Maybe he owns Oliver Garden and wants to put a growing competitor out of business?
posted by chavenet at 9:25 AM on March 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Afghan food is just delightful, but it's so hard to come by - only when I go to a major US city, or once in October when I buy a pumpkin and spend a day making kaddo bourani and dirtying half the dishes in the house. Last year in Baltimore, I had dinner at Helmand with a couple of colleagues, one who hadn't had Afghan food before. We dined like kings on that trip, but the dinner at Helmand was the one meal she came back raving about.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:26 AM on March 10, 2015


So this brother is different from Karzai's other brother the drug lord? The heroin trafficker who may have been on the CIA payroll? Probably so, he was assassinated a few years back. Nice family we put in power. The collective guilt part comes with how President Karzai helped politically connected drug traffickers, including presumably his brother.
posted by Nelson at 9:39 AM on March 10, 2015


So this brother is different from Karzai's other brother the drug lord?

Well, given that the brother you're asking about is dead, per your own links, and there doesn't appear to be any mention of Qayum in any of your other articles...yes? Probably a different brother. That doesn't seem like a good faith question.

You understand that siblings are not responsible for each other's behavior, right? I can't and shouldn't be punished for crimes my sister commits, no matter how terrible it might be.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:55 AM on March 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


John Oliver can have a bit of a mean streak.

Comedy is not pretty.
posted by blurker at 10:03 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know who else had a mean streak?

Don Rickles.
posted by josher71 at 10:09 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you find yourself in Baltimore, the Karzais also own Tapas Teatro up the street, which is a pretty great restaurant itself (pro tip: you can order wine and take it to the Charles Theatre next door.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:42 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


So... Baltimore meetup at the Helmand, then?
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:11 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


You understand that siblings are not responsible for each other's behavior, right?

As a younger brother, I feel like this is the opening line of my life.
posted by tallthinone at 7:27 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seconding LobsterMitten's recommendation of the pumpkin appetizer. It is divine. I'm also a big fan of the choppendez.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 2:02 PM on March 11, 2015


Oh god, Afghan food. There's one afghani place in st. Louis and it's become one of our rotation of restaurants.
posted by notsnot at 8:37 PM on March 11, 2015


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