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Karzai: Explosions show Taliban 'at the service' of America

Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused the Taliban and US forces of working together on Sunday. He said Saturday's suicide bombings, which coincided with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's visit, were meant to show violence will worsen if foreign troops leave.

By Heidi Vogt and Rahim FaiezAssociated Press / March 10, 2013

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a nationally televised speech about the state of Afghan women in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday. Karzai on Sunday accused the Taliban and the US of working in concert to convince Afghans that violence will worsen if most foreign troops leave as planned by the end of next year.

Ahmad Jamshid/AP

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Kabul, Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday accused the Taliban and the US of working in concert to convince Afghans that violence will worsen if most foreign troops leave — an allegation the top American commander in Afghanistan rejected as "categorically false."

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Karzai said two suicide bombings that killed 19 people on Saturday — one outside the Afghan Defense Ministry and the other near a police checkpoint in eastern Khost province — show the insurgent group is conducting attacks to help show that international forces will still be needed to keep the peace after their current combat mission ends in 2014.

"The explosions in Kabul and Khost yesterday showed that they are at the service of America and at the service of this phrase: 2014. They are trying to frighten us into thinking that if the foreigners are not in Afghanistan, we would be facing these sorts of incidents," he said during a nationally televised speech about the state of Afghan women.

US and NATO forces commander Gen. Joseph Dunford said Karzai had never expressed such views to him, but said it was understandable that tensions would arise as the coalition balances the need to complete its mission and the Afghans' move to exercise more sovereignty.

"We have fought too hard over the past 12 years, we have shed too much blood over the last 12 years, to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage," Dunford said.

Karzai is known for making incendiary comments in his public speeches, a move that is often attributed to him trying to appeal to those who sympathize with the Taliban or as a way to gain leverage when he feels his international allies are ignoring his country's sovereignty. In previous speeches, he has threatened to join the Taliban and called his NATO allies occupiers who want to plunder Afghanistan's resources.

Karzai also denounced the arrest of a university student Saturday by Afghan forces his aide said were working for the CIA. It was unclear why the student was detained.

Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said the CIA freed the student after Karzai's staff intervened, but that Karzai wants the Afghan raiders arrested. The president issued a decree on Sunday banning all foreign forces from universities and schools unless they obtain prior permission from the Afghan government.

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