Afghan President Hamid Karzai (shown) has accused the United States of secretly working with the Taliban to facilitate terrorist attacks, supposedly in order to demonstrate a need for U.S. troop presence in the war-torn country after the scheduled withdrawal of Western combat units at the end of next year.
The Associated Press reported Karzai's remarks, made Sunday during a nationally televised speech about the state of Afghan women. The Afghan president claimed that 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 demonstrate that international forces will still be needed to keep the peace beyond 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," Karzai said.
The claim was promptly denounced as "categorically false" by U.S. and NATO forces commander Gen. Joseph Dunford, who, in a conciliatory note, 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 told the A.P.
It is hardly the first time Karzai has vented his anger and frustration over the role of U.S. and NATO forces in his country. After a U.S. Army soldier reportedly went on a shooting rampage, killing 17 civilians in a remote village in Afghanistan in the early morning hours of March 11, 2012, the Afghan leader called for the withdrawal of the foreign troops before the 2014 deadline. Karzai and members of the Afghan parliament were not only incensed over the killing of Afghan civilians by a member of the U.S. Army, but were indignant over the fact that the accused was whisked by American forces out of the country before he could be put on trial in Afghanistan.
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Photo of Afghan President Hamid Karzai: AP Images