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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More