|Afghanistan war served U.S. interests, not ours, Karzai says||
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has expressed grief that his country was the victim of a war which served interests of the U.S. and its Western allies.
“Afghans died in a war that’s not ours,” Karzai said in an interview with the Washington Post published on Sunday.
He said that the 12-year-old war was “for the U.S. security and for the Western interest.”
The Afghan president also urged the U.S. to end air raids in Afghanistan, saying that, instead of Taliban militants, civilians are being killed in these airstrikes.
Karzai also said he will not sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with Washington and that it is up to his successor to make the decision. Afghanistan will hold a presidential election in April.
“My stand remains the same - that I cannot sign this BSA agreement with the United States without the launch of the peace process… [U.S.] President [Barack] Obama said, ‘Well, the U.S. can wait for the next president,’” the Afghan president said.
He stressed that Washington must start peace talks with the Taliban and end raids on Afghan homes before asking Afghans to sign the deal.
On Tuesday, Obama warned Karzai against not signing the BSA.
Obama ordered the Pentagon to begin planning for a full U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan if the deal is not signed.
The U.S. and Afghanistan are still at odds on some of the terms of the agreement, including immunity for American troops and their attacks on Afghan villages and homes.
The U.S. president told Karzai in a phone call on Tuesday he had given the order to the Pentagon. The phone call was the first substantive discussion between the two leaders since June.
In the interview, the Afghan leader said he was deeply troubled by the war’s casualties, including those in U.S. military operations, and felt betrayed by what he described as an insufficient U.S. focus on going after Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan rather than in Afghan villages.
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan dissipated his country’s “common cause” with the United States, Karzai told the newspaper.
Criticizing his U.S. allies was the only way to secure a response by Washington to his concerns, he said.
Washington Post said Karzai told his interviewers as he escorted them out of his office on Saturday night: “To the American people, give them my best wishes and my gratitude. To the U.S. government, give them my anger, my extreme anger.”
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of the so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity remains across the country.
The NATO-led force in Afghanistan has a current strength of more than 52,000 soldiers, including 33,600 US troops. More than 3,400 coalition forces have been killed in the fight against the Taliban, including more than 2,300 U.S. troops.
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