Karzai threat to join Taliban startles Washington

09:21, April 06, 2010      

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai's startling threat to join the Taliban if foreigners don't stop meddling in Afghanistan and his rising criticism of the West's role have worsened relations with Washington at a time when the U.S. military wants closer cooperation ahead of a potentially decisive offensive this summer.

Karzai's comments suggest that his understanding of partnership with Washington differs from Obama's considerably. On certain issues, Karzai clearly wants Washington to back off.

"Troubling" is how White House spokesman Robert Gibbs described reports Monday that Karzai threatened to abandon the political process and join the Taliban insurgency if the West keeps carping at him to reform his government.

"On behalf of the American people, we're frustrated with the remarks," Gibbs told reporters.

"These comments can undercut the kind of support that we think we need on all sides of this equation if we're going to move forward," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. "Clearly, you know, what he says does have an impact back here in the United States and he should choose his words carefully."

Karzai has long chaffed under what he considers excessive international pressure. Those complaints escalated when he lashed out against the U.N. and the international community last week, accusing them of perpetrating a "vast fraud" in last year's presidential polls as part of a conspiracy to deny him re-election or tarnish his victory — accusations the U.S. and the United Nations have denied.
Two days later, Karzai told a group of parliament members that if foreign interference in his government continues, the Taliban would become a legitimate resistance — one that he might even join, according to several lawmakers present.

"He said that ‘if I come under foreign pressure, I might join the Taliban,'" said Farooq Marenai, who represents the eastern province of Nangarhar. Two other parliament members gave the same account but asked that their names not be published to avoid problems with Karzai.

Karzai told CNN on Monday that he has no intention of breaking with Washington, which is pouring 30,000 more troops into the fight against the Taliban.

"It's just to make sure that we all understand as to where each one of us stands," Karzai said. "Afghanistan is the home of Afghans and we own this place. And our partners are here to help in a cause that's all of us. We run this country, the Afghans."

The lawmakers agreed that the threat to join the Taliban did not appear serious but reflected Karzai's anger over U.S. and international pressure on several issues, including electoral reform, combating corruption and contacts with Taliban insurgents.

Those differences were sharpened by Obama's unannounced visit to Kabul on March 28. In advance of the trip, Obama's national security adviser, James Jones, told reporters that Karzai needed once and for all to confront corruption and "be seized with how important that is." Karzai's advisers found the public tongue-lashing humiliating — especially coming from a "guest".

People's Daily Online / Agencies


(Editor:梁军)

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