News / Asia

    Karzai Flexes Muscle In War of Words With US

    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (l) during a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul, March, 4, 2013.
    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (l) during a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul, March, 4, 2013.
    Sharon Behn
    Afghan President Hamid Karzai has had a rocky relationship with foreign forces in Afghanistan. But his strident criticism this month of American troops, as well as his allegations that NATO and the Taliban are working together to destabilize the country, are surprisingly hostile, say political analysts. 

    For years, Karzai has tried to politically distance himself from international forces securing his country, apparently in an attempt to dispel criticism that he is a puppet of the U.S. government.

    But his recent comments against Washington took many by surprise.

    “America says Taliban is not my enemy and we do not have war with Taliban, but in the name of Taliban they are abusing people in Afghanistan on a daily basis,” Karzai said.

    The Afghan leader later distanced himself from his provocative rhetoric, saying he had only been trying to correct the relationship.

    According to analysts in Kabul, Karzai is frustrated by U.S. reluctance to hand over the last of its prisoners into Afghan custody, and by the pace of talks for Americans to leave eastern Wardak province, after reports of abuse at the hands of Afghans working with U.S. special forces there.

    U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford said Wednesday they had reached an agreement to pull U.S. troops out of the province and replace them with Afghan security.

    Karzai had also accused the international community of holding talks with the Taliban militants behind his back.

    “Their [Taliban] leaders and representatives are talking with Americans outside Afghanistan on a daily basis," Karzai said. "We are aware of those talks, as the foreigners and patriotic Taliban are coming and telling us what they are talking on and asking us to be careful."

    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen lashed out at Karzai's suggestion that international forces had some kind of secret understanding with the militants.

    "I reject the idea that was publicly launched by President Karzai that one way or the other there is a so-called collusion between NATO, ISAF, US and the Taliban," he said. "It's an absolutely ridiculous idea.''

    But presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi kept up the rhetoric this week, saying the Afghan people considered it "aimless and unwise" to continue the war on terror in their country, which they consider a failure and has cost thousands of innocent lives. 

    Kate Clark, senior analyst with the Afghanistan Analysts Network in Kabul, says the relationship between Karzai and Washington is often rocky, but appears to have hit a new low.

    She says Karzai wants to assert his independence from the West as international forces prepare to leave in 2014, and that anti-foreigner speeches often go down well among the Afghan populace. And, she adds, he believes he can get away with it.

    "I think President Karzai is very, very confident that the United States wants to stay in Afghanistan come hell or high water," Clark says, "and he thinks he can make what are actually very rude remarks and because of America's strategic interests as he sees them in Afghanistan, it will not be walking away."

    Omar Samad, a former Afghan diplomat and the head of Silk Road Consulting, a political analysis group, says Karzai's words are partly the result of his frustration with the international forces' inability to bring peace to Afghanistan despite a decade of conflict. 

    But Karzai's nationalist rhetoric could cost him politically both with the already fatigued international community as well as at home.

    "There is a political price to pay domestically in Afghanistan; we have seen very strong reaction from political as well as social groups over the last few days over the president hostile rhetoric," Samad says. "Afghans are very uncertain about the future at this time. Rhetoric makes it even more difficult."

    Regardless of the Afghan leader's intentions, both analysts agreed that Karzai's remarks will do little to politically stabilize a country already facing considerable economic and security challenges.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: mustafa from: pakistan
    March 20, 2013 10:20 PM
    The easy solution of all these problems to have free election, but this is not in the interest of USA. USA always wants a puppet govt in third word country so they can achieve their target easily. Every body knows USA supporting al qaida in syria because of his interest to change the regime. USA hate iran because he is not willing to take dictation from usa or europe.

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    March 20, 2013 12:38 PM
    Mr. Karzai, from recent pictures in the media, does not appear well; coupled with the latest pronouncements and accusations he is making, it sounds as if he is in, or is approaching a full mental crisis. For some years his behaviour has been very conflicting, some days behind the NATO allied forces, a few days later fully antagonistic to the allies; but lately he no longer makes sense. Under such a situation, I hope the NATO allies are taking good and effective security measures for their forces; because such "flakey" public behavior could give rise to very negative incidents. NATO needs to pull out, ASAP, from Afghanistan.
    In Response

    by: Joe6Pack
    March 20, 2013 6:07 PM
    You can see he's getting stressed out over U.S. and NATO imperialism. Not all nations can put up with being rolled over.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.