Afghan President Hamid Karzai is under fire for allegations that he said he would join the Taliban if foreign pressure continued to mount on his administration.
Peter Galbraith, a former U.N. official who left his post in Kabul over an election row, told MSNBC that the Afghan leader was suffering mentally.
"He's prone to tirades, he can be very emotional, act impulsively," Galbraith said. "In fact some of the palace insiders say that he has a certain fondness for some of Afghanistan's most profitable exports (opium)."
Karzai's spokesman Siamak Hirawi said the claims were further evidence that Galbraith's defensive tone implied he was compensating for his role in election corruption.
But the fracas has spilled over to international affairs as Washington reconsiders an invitation to the Afghan leader to meet May 12 with U.S. President Barack Obama.
David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, entered the debate by saying that "malign suggestions" that his government was involved in election fraud was "completely without foundation," London's Guardian newspaper reports.
Election watchdogs in Afghanistan uncovered evidence in 2009 that suggested Karzai's victory in August presidential elections was tainted by rampant fraud.
Afghan observers believe Karzai's stance against the West is an attempt to gain favor at home, but the Guardian notes that many leaders see it as unwise to jeopardize such a critical relationship.