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.
    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.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

    You May Like

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    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.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora