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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs