Afghanistan’s former President Hamid Karzai has once again raised doubts over the US’s counter-terrorism strategy in Afghanistan, saying Afghans continue to suffer through “terrorism and extremism” despite the United States and its western allies having intervened in the country fifteen years ago.
“We need peace in Afghanistan and we need success against terrorism in Afghanistan, the U.S came into Afghanistan in the name of fighting extremism and terrorism. Fifteen years on, do we have less of it or more of it, we a lot more of it, so obviously we failed there and the victim is the Afghan people and our peace,” Hamid Karzai said in an interview this week with RT in Moscow.
In a question about the billions of dollars invested in Afghanistan by the U.S and the loss of thousands of lives of westerners, Karzai said he does not know the chances of that happening on the American side, but as an Afghan citizen, he maintains he has the right to seek peace for his nation.
“The chances of that happening on the American side, I don’t know; looks less and less likely; but I as an Afghan have the right to seek peace for my country and to do all I can to bring that peace, what should I do is advise the Americans as I have been doing; what should I do is remind the Americans, what should I do is tell the Americans that they are making mistakes and that the way they are doing things will not work. Second what should I do is also bring in the major powers of this world who are, incidentally, all of them are our neighbors—Russia, China, India, Iran and also Pakistan,” Karzai said.
When asked by the RT journalist about President Donald Trump’s approach toward Afghanistan and Russia, Karzai said he is hopeful that the United States and Russia would forge closer ties and work jointly to address the issues in Afghanistan and the region.
“President Trump had initially the right overtures towards Russia and so the complexity of the international relations and recognized that without cooperation of Russia, there would not be much achieved for the United States specially in a place like Syria and the situations in Afghanistan, so as an Afghan and for Afghanistan, I was very hopeful and look forward to the much needed cooperation between United States and Russia,” added Karzai.
He said that it was the United States who walked away from an environment of cooperation.
On the issue of rivalry between the U.S and Russia on Afghan soil, Karzai warned against such an approach and stressed that he wants to see Afghanistan become a center of cooperation, but not one of competition.
He warned that the Afghans will rise, if their country is changed into a place for competition and rivalry.
“It shouldn’t be an exception,” Karzai responded when asked whether rivalry was an exception in the war-torn countries.
“If they don’t cooperate, Afghans will rise against those who have the key to the solution in Afghanistan, today it is the United States, they just bombed us with the biggest of the bombs that they had, short of a nuclear bomb, a country that they call an ally, and would one expect me to keep quite?” Karzai asked, referring to the recent bombing of Daesh in Achin district of Nangarhar province.
He said that the U.S did not inform the Afghan government ahead of the bombing and that Trump’s recklessness in bombing a nation in the name of a small group of Daesh was concerning.
“The U.S president cannot be so disrespectful of a people as they have shown the other day by bombing our country,” Karzai said.
Karzai said he does not see a connection between the bombing of Nangarhar and the peace negotiation talks which had been underway the previous day in Moscow. But he added that Afghans want to know who was behind radicalism and extremism in their country.
“Who is this radical force, what is the source of extremism in Afghanistan? What is this terrorist activities in Afghanistan, who is behind it, we ask these questions in Afghanistan,” Karzai said.
On the U.S’s concerns about a growing Russian influence in Afghanistan, Karzai said Afghanistan has had a history and the U.S must not exploit Afghans’ poverty as their weakness.
“They (U.S) should allow Afghanistan to be a place of cooperation; here I would ask Russia for the same thing,” Karzai said.
He called on major powers such China, Russia and the U.S to put aside their own differences when it comes to the situation in Afghanistan and instead jointly fight growing terrorism in Afghanistan.
“We have a dangerous dangerous growth of terrorism in Afghanistan under the U.S watch and during the U.S presence, this needs an explanation, we are the ones that suffer first,” he said.
He asked the U.S to prove its honesty in combating terrorism.
“For years we told them that Afghanistan was a ground where victims of terrorism were created, we were the victims of terrorism that the sanctuaries were beyond Afghanistan in Pakistan,” Karzai said.
“The prolonging of war in the name of the war on terror, the emergence of more extremism and terrorism and the arrival of Daesh in Afghanistan and Afghanistan becoming more a country affected by extremism in the presence of the U.S would take us to the last to suspicions that the war is a means for to stay longer,” Karzai said when asked whether the US intent to use Afghan a base against Iran and Russia.
On the Taliban-US engagements Karzai said, “The U.S is regularly talking to the Taliban. They speak to them in Pakistan and we know that, they speak to them in Qatar and we know that, they probably talk to them elsewhere. Russia’s talking to Taliban is not unusual,” Karzai said.
Karzai’s remarks come just a few weeks after the U.S national security advisor H.R McMaster visited Afghanistan where he met with the Afghan political leadership on the ongoing situation in the country.
He said that the U.S will announce its new strategy on Afghanistan in the near future once he briefed Trump on the situation.