The former Afghan president has said the United States has failed in its two-decade mission to bring stability to “fight extremism” and bring stability to its war-torn nation.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, just weeks before the last U.S. and NATO troops left Afghanistan after nearly 20 years, Hamid Karzai said troops coming out they are leaving behind a disaster.
“The international community came here 20 years ago with this clear goal of fighting extremism and achieving stability … but extremism is at its highest point today. So they have failed,” he said.
He said his legacy is a war-ravaged nation in “disgrace and total disgrace.”
“We recognize as Afghans all our failures, but what about the greater forces and powers that came here for this purpose? Where do they leave us now?” He asked and replied, “In total misery and disaster.”
However, Karzai, who had a troubled relationship with the U.S. during his 13-year rule, wanted troops to leave, saying Afghans were united behind an overwhelming desire for peace and now needed to take responsibility for the war. its future.
“We will be better off without his military presence,” he said.
“I think we have to defend our own country and look after our own lives. … His presence (has given us) what we have now. … We do not want to continue with this misery and indignity that we face. It’s better for Afghanistan to leave. “
The Karzai government followed the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 by a U.S.-led coalition that launched its invasion to hunt down and destroy the al-Qaeda network and its leader, Osama bin Laden, guilty of the attacks. on September 11 in the US.
During the Karzai government, women gained more rights, girls returned to school, a young and vibrant civil society emerged, new highs rose in the capital Kabul, and roads and infrastructure were built.
But his government has also been plagued by allegations of widespread corruption, thriving drug trafficking and the incessant recent years of disputes with Washington that continue to this day.
In April, when U.S. President Joe Biden announced the final withdrawal of the remaining 2,500-3,500 troops, he said the U.S. would abandon its targets. Al-Qaeda had shrunk sharply and bin Laden was dead.
The U.S. no longer needed boots on the ground to combat security threats that could emanate from Afghanistan, he said.
Yet attempts by the United States to achieve a political end to the decades of war have been difficult to dodge.
In February 2020, it signed an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw its troops in exchange for a Taliban promise to denounce armed groups like Al Qaeda and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a scene of attacks in the US again.
There is little evidence that the Taliban are doing their part in the negotiation. The United Nations says the Taliban and al-Qaeda remain linked.
The architect of the U.S. agreement and current U.S. peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, says progress has been made but without offering any details.
Karzai has had harsh, uncompromising words about U.S. war tactics for the past twenty years in Afghanistan.
Still, it has become a kind of pivot in a joint effort by the United States and the United Kingdom to achieve a disputed Afghan leadership in Kabul united enough to talk peace with the Taliban.
The armed group has shown little interest in negotiating and instead has intensified its assaults on government positions.
On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden will meet at the White House with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the President of the High Council of Afghanistan for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, to discuss the withdrawal of troops amid escalating fighting between Afghan and Taliban forces across the country.
At his first face-to-face meeting, Biden will try to reassure Ghani and Abdullah about US support for the Afghan people, including diplomatic, economic and humanitarian assistance, the White House said in a statement.
The Taliban have made significant territorial gains since the May 1 start of the US and NATO withdrawal. They have surpassed dozens of districts, often negotiating the surrender of Afghan national security forces.
But in many cases the struggle has been intense. Last week, a brutal assault by the Taliban in northern Faryab province killed 22 elite Afghan commandos, led by a local hero, Colonel Sohrab Azimi, who was also killed and badly mourned.
“The desire of the Afghan people, overwhelmingly, across the country is peace,” said Karzai, who, despite being out of power since 2014, has lost little of his political influence and is often at the center of political machinations of the country.
Diplomats, Western officials, generals, tribal elders and politicians from all ends of Afghanistan’s political spectrum regularly make their way to the Karzai Gate, in the heart of the Afghan capital.
As the U.S. military withdrawal ends more than 50 percent, the need for a political agreement or even a visible path to a possible deal seems to be taking on more urgency, even when Afghans for thousands of people are looking for a way out.
They say they are frustrated by relentless corruption, by shattered criminal flags, some related to the powerful warlords in Kabul, and by the worsening insecurity. Few see a future that is not violent.
Despite accusing both Pakistan, where the Taliban leadership is located, and the United States of igniting fighting, Karzai said it is up to the Afghans to end decades of war.
For Pakistan’s military and civilian leaders, Karzai said Afghanistan wants “a civilized relationship … if Pakistan adopts an attitude away from the use of extremism against Afghanistan, that relationship could become in a beautiful relationship, in a very fruitful relationship for both parties. “
For the warring parties in Afghanistan, Karzai said, “I am very emphatic and clear about this, both sides should think about the life of the Afghan people and property … the fight is destruction.
“The only answer is that the Afghans are coming together … We have to recognize that this is our country and we have to stop killing ourselves.”