Petraeus strikes back at Karzai ahead of major NATO conference on Afghanistan
A war of words has erupted between Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and the United States just days before a major NATO conference on security strategy.
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General Petraeus responded the same day, telling Afghan officials that Karzai’s comments risked making his position “untenable,” and he expressed “astonishment and disappointment,” reports the Post. Petraeus considers the night raids key to counterinsurgency strategy, and, the Post reports in a separate article, “key to his hopes of being able to show significant progress when the White House reviews the situation in Afghanistan next month.”Skip to next paragraph
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"I think it's [Karzai's] directness that really sticks in the craw," another NATO official said. "He is standing 180 degrees to what is a central tenet of our current campaign plan."
"It's pretty clear that you no longer have a reliable partner in Kabul," the official added. "I think we tried to paper it over with [Karzai's] Washington visit" in May. "But the wheels have been becoming looser and looser ... since that."
The National Journal reports that two US senators also voiced strong disapproval of Karzai’s assessment. Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona said "Hamid Karzai is reflecting his desire to survive, also a degree of paranoia,” while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina said he was “stunned.”
The Associated Press reports that NATO officials thought they had received assurances that Karzai supported the coalition’s strategy, although the Post quotes officials in Washington who said the remarks are “not a surprise.” Karzai has criticized the night raids before.
Karzai’s spokesman, attempting to downplay the remarks, said they did not represent a critique of “overall strategy” and that Karzai has been “very clear about his confidence in Gen. Petraeus,” reports the AP.
The New York Times reports that the US plan to begin transferring security to Afghans, which it will unveil at a two-day NATO conference in Lisbon starting Friday, “will reflect the most concrete vision for transition in Afghanistan assembled by civilian and military officials since President Obama took office last year.”
The president set July 2011 as the date when the transition and withdrawal of US troops will begin, but has lately been emphasizing the 2014 target for complete combat withdrawal.