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Entries in Hamid Karzai (72)

Thursday
May232013

Afghan President Promises He Won't Seek Third Term

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai won't run in 2014. Actually, he can't. The flamboyant and often inscrutable leader is barred by his constitution from seeking a third term.

Karzai asserted that there is "no circumstance that will allow me to stay as president" when asked whether he'll try to get around term limits while on a visit to India Wednesday.

According to the Afghan president, he's actually ready for retirement after eight grueling years. But even more importantly, Karzai asked rhetorically, "Why would I ruin my legacy by staying on and taking an opportunity away from Afghanistan to become an institutionalized democracy?"

Despite his sometimes puzzling statements about U.S.-Afghan relations, Karzai is a known commodity to the West unlike other potential candidates.

The national elections are set for next April just as U.S. and NATO allies prepare to withdraw most of their military forces from Afghanistan. Washington and Kabul are still trying to hammer out a post-war agreement about what the U.S. role will be in Afghanistan after 2014.

As for how the country will manage without coalition forces to repel foreign and domestic militants, Karzai seemed unperturbed, predicting that Afghanistan is much different from Iraq because there are no sectarian tensions to deal with.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar142013

ISAF Troops Warned of New Threats After Karzai's Remarks

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Coalition troops in Afghanistan have been put on higher alert, thanks to recent remarks made by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

In a command threat advisory sent on Wednesday and obtained by The New York Times, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, warned troops of the potential of more insider attacks.

"[Karzai's] remarks could be a catalyst for some to lash out against our forces — he may also issue orders that put our forces at risk," the advisory read.

The warning comes as Karzai accused both the United States and the Taliban of creating instability in Afghanistan, a charge quickly rejected by U.S. officials.

On Thursday, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) responded to the advisory: "ISAF routinely conducts assessments and adapts its protection posture to ensure our forces are prepared to meet potential threats and that they have a common understanding of the situation here in Afghanistan.  This advisory was prudent given increased Coalition causalities in recent days.  General Dunford's e-mail is simply an example of this vigilance."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar112013

Tense Times for Afghanistan and the United States

Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In what appears to be the latest sign of a deteriorating relationship between two allies, a news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the Afghan capital of Kabul was canceled on Sunday due to “security concerns.”

The two met privately, and Pentagon press secretary George Little denied the cancellation was because of remarks made earlier by Karzai suggesting that the Taliban and the U.S. were in cahoots.

At an earlier news conference, Karzai suggested that the U.S. government and the Taliban, while using different means, were working in concert to keep Afghanistan unstable and convince Afghans that violence will get worse when foreign troops leave as scheduled at the end of next year.

Karzai described pessimistic reports about his country’s future after NATO troops leave in 2014 as propaganda promoted via the Western news media with the intention of undermining Afghan confidence in their country and his government.

“There is a lot of negative propaganda about what will happen after 2014,” Karzai said, adding that it is being forecast as a disaster film and thought of as “the 2014 movie.”

Karzai also accused the United States of sending different signals about its view of the Taliban.  The Afghan leader says the U.S., on one hand, claims the Taliban is the enemy, but then it engages the group in negotiations. 

The United States is not presently talking with the Taliban, but it has in the past.  Karzai claims many Afghans are confused about the U.S. government’s true intent.

The Afghan leader then said, “On the one hand the Taliban are talking with the Americans, but on the other hand, they carry out a bombing in Kabul,” a reference to a suicide bombing on Saturday outside the Afghan defense ministry.

Karzai continued, “Yesterday’s bombing in Kabul [and another in the city of Khost] didn’t aim to show Taliban’s strength; indeed they serve America.  By those bombings they served the 2014 negative slogan.  These bombings aimed to prolong the presence of the American forces in Afghanistan.”

Asked about his private meeting with Karzai, Hagel told reporters the two had “a very direct conversation.” 

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, continued, “I know these are difficult issues for President Karzai and the Afghan people.  And I was once a politician.  So I can understand the kind of pressures -- especially leaders of countries -- are always under.”

Hagel said he had confidence that the United States and Afghanistan “could move forward” and “deal with these issues.”

In comments to reporters before Karzai’s private meeting with Hagel, America’s new top commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Joseph Dunford, insisted that the two countries still get along. 

“We do not have a broken relationship,” Dunford declared.

Dunford, however, strongly disagreed with Karzai’s claims that the U.S. wants instability in Afghanistan.

“We have fought too hard over the past 12 years, we have shed too much blood over the past 12 years, we have done too much to help the Afghan security forces grow over the past 12 years to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage,” Dunford told reporters.

Afghan observers note that Karzai’s outburst on Sunday came in the wake of the cancellation of an agreement in which the U.S. had promised to hand over control of Bagram Prison to Afghanistan.

Atiqullah Amarkhel, a former Afghan Army general and a military analyst, told The New York Times that Karzai’s “prestige as president was degraded in the eyes of the public by the Americans’ refusal to hand over responsibility of the prison to the Afghans.”

“I think it drives him crazy when he sees it’s not happening,” Amarkhel said, adding, “It also shows a deep sense of distrust between two one-time allies. To the public, it means all the power is with foreigners.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb242013

Afghan President Hamid Karzai to US Special Ops: Get Out

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered all U.S. Special Forces out of two key provinces within two weeks, accusing Afghan units under their jurisdiction of being responsible for the torture, abuse, and disappearance of Afghan civilians.

The deadline was announced Sunday by Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi at a hastily convened press conference, and later repeated in a statement from the Presidential Palace.

The decision came after Karzai met Sunday with his National Security Council. According to the statement, during the meeting "it became clear that armed individuals belonging to U.S. Special Forces engaged in harassing, annoying, torturing, and even murdering innocent people."

A NATO spokesperson says they are aware of the allegations, but would not provide further comment.

U.S. Special Forces are known to conduct operations with Afghan units that are separate from the normal Afghan Army. Because these units are often directly recruited, trained and supported by U.S. Special Forces, they fall outside of Karzai's control.

Afghans have long complained of harassment and intimidation at the hands of these forces, some of whom are seen as former criminals and militia members out to settle petty vendettas against tribal enemies.

Karzai's allegations refer to two specific incidents: The disappearance of nine Afghan civilians following a Special Forces operation, and the death of a student who was taken away during a night raid and whose body was found two days later under a bridge with torture marks and his throat cut. The incidents are believed to have occurred recently.

Wardak lies just to the west of Kabul and Logar to the south. Both provinces are considered key gateways to the city of Kabul.

In addition to the two-week deadline for all U.S. Special Forces to leave the two provinces, Karzai also ordered an immediate halt to all U.S. Special Operations activities in Wardak province.

The move comes a week after Karzai lashed out at coalition forces, ordering a ban on all airstrikes in residential areas. The ban came after several civilians were reportedly killed in an airstrike requested by Afghan forces.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan102013

Karzai in Washington to Discuss US Military Future in Afghanistan

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan arrived at the Pentagon Thursday for the first in a series of discussions with senior American leaders about the future of the U.S. military role in Afghanistan after American combat troops leave the country at the end of 2014.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta greeted Karzai with all the pomp and circumstance accorded a head of state – a 21-gun salute, and marching bands and honor guards from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard.

Topping the agenda for Karzai’s meetings in Washington is a discussion over the effort to reach a security agreement between the two countries.  The White House is currently considering the number of troops to be kept, with the leading options numbering between 3,000 and 9,000 forces, although earlier this week the possibility that no troops may be left behind was raised.

At the Pentagon, Karzai and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta met for an hour. Panetta later described the meeting as touching on the United States’ “enduring commitment” to Afghanistan.

Later in the day, at a news conference with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Panetta said his meeting with Karzai helped “lay the groundwork” for Karzai’s meeting with President Obama on Friday.

Neither Panetta nor Dempsey would speculate on the options, particularly the zero-troop option, though Dempsey acknowledged, “We’ve said from the start no option is off the table.”

Karzai’s relationship with the United States has at times been a rocky one as he has sometimes made critical statements about the allied troop presence in his country. U.S. officials believe he has made those comments out of political expediency to improve his standing with Afghans and show his independence.

Coalition forces have been transitioning security to Afghan forces over the past year, so that by now they are in the lead for security in areas where 76 percent of the Afghan population lives.

Despite that, most Afghan military units still remain unable to work independently of the logistical and combat support provided by the U.S. and its allies.  The U.S. currently has 66,000 troops, with 34,000 troops from other NATO countries, serving alongside Afghanistan’s 352,000 security forces.

American troops continue to partner with Afghan troops in preparation for withdrawal, though the rapid spike in insider attacks last year has created new challenges.

It is against this backdrop that on Thursday Karzai assured Panetta that with the U.S. and NATO assistance provided the past decade to Afghanistan that it “will be able to provide security its people and to protect its borders so Afghanistan will not ever be threatened by terrorists from across our borders.”

Thursday evening Karzai met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for talks that would also focus on American security commitments after 2014.  After their meeting they were joined by Panetta for a working dinner.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan082013

Obama, Karzai to Meet Friday on Afghan Transition

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai will meet at the White House Friday to discuss the future of the U.S.-Afghan relationship as the Obama administration readies to draw down its remaining forces after more than a dozen years of war.

Karzai arrived Tuesday for three days of meetings, including his first face-to-face discussion with Obama since last year’s NATO summit. Obama and Karzai also plan to hold a joint news conference Friday.

With the Obama administration poised to withdraw the majority of its roughly 66,000 troops by the end of next year, the meeting is an opportunity for the presidents to take stock of the transition and evaluate the path forward, according to White House officials.

“This is not a visit during which President Obama will be making decisions about U.S. troop levels in the immediate future,” Deputy National Security Adviser For Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes told reporters on a conference call Tuesday.  The president will make that decision in the “coming months.”

The administration has suggested keeping less than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after the combat mission ends after next year.  That number is far fewer than the 20,000 originally proposed by Gen. John Allen, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan.

According to Rhodes, the administration has not ruled out the “zero option” of leaving no U.S. troops on the ground after 2014. “We’re not guided by the goal of a certain number of U.S. troops in the country,” Rhodes stressed.

In addition to the transition, Karzai and Obama are expected to discuss the nature of U.S. support for Afghanistan beyond 2014, which would focus on the training and equipping of Afghan security forces and counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda. The U.S. and Afghan governments are working on a Bilateral Security Agreement to accomplish these goals.

“We want to have an Afghan partner that is capable of standing on its own, with our support, again, and denying safe haven and having the capability to take the lead for its own security and for the future of the Afghan people,” Rhodes said.

The timeline set by the U.S. and Afghan governments requires an agreement for a post-2014 Bilateral Security Agreement be reached by November at the latest.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec072012

Karzai: US, NATO Partly to Blame for Violence in Afghanistan

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai is holding the U.S. and NATO at least somewhat responsible for what he refers to as "insecurity" in Afghanistan.

During an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Karzai suggested that the structures set up by the coalition over the past 11 years are to blame for the ongoing violence in his country.

The president, now in his second term, was quick to add that the Taliban and other insurgent forces remain the main obstacles to peace.

Yet, in a sign of rough sledding ahead, Karzai made it clear that any post-war security pact he signs with Washington must include an agreement by the U.S. to turn over hundreds of prisoners to Afghan authorities.

And in another apparent slap at President Obama and his administration, the Afghan president remarked that Afghans won't permit their "government to enter into a security agreement, while the United States continues to violate Afghan sovereignty and Afghan loss."

The U.S. and NATO forces are due to withdraw from Afghanistan sometime during 2014.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct312012

Afghanistan to Elect New President in 2014

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Afghanistan has set a date to choose its next president.

Just as U.S. forces pull out of the country, Afghanistan is set to elect a successor for President Hamid Karzai on April 5, 2014, reports The Wall Street Journal. Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission set the poll date Tuesday. Karzai is not allowed to run for a third term, according to the country's constitution.

While the Wall Street Journal speculated Tuesday whether Karzai would name his brother Qayum as a "preferred candidate," a spokesman for the Afghan president said Tuesday that Karzai has not named a preference, the Journal reports.

Calling the electoral process is "inclusive" and "not exclusive," Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi said, "He has not named anybody, but he has held a series of meetings with different people around the country to create a road map for elections."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct192012

Karzai Says Afghans Can Take Over for Coalition Earlier than 2014

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai claimed on Thursday that his police and military forces are prepared to take over security chores from the international coalition whenever it decides to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The U.S. and NATO have scheduled a near total drawdown by sometime in 2014 and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated that firm date during his press conference in Kabul with Karzai.

Rasmussen said that he believes national forces will be ready to assume security responsibilities by the time the coalition packs up and leaves two years from now.

However, Karzai's suggestion was that Afghanistan is ready, even now, if the U.S. and NATO want to get an early jump.

The announcement came just a day after a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle by striking a joint U.S.-Afghan base in the Zurmat district of Paktia province, wounding 45 Afghan soldiers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep272012

UK, Afghanistan and Pakistan Have Constructive UN Pow-Wow

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Something positive has come out of the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City this week -- even if it happened in the sidelines.

The leaders of the United Kingdom, Afghanistan and Pakistan pledged that their governments would continue seeking regional peace, stability and development in the region as the war in Afghanistan nears its 11th anniversary.

British Prime Minister David Cameron met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to also discuss eliminating terrorism that still plagues Afghanistan and its often contentious neighbor.

In perhaps the most important sign of cooperation, Zardari said he supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process to end the long war.

Zadari and Karzai also expressed their appreciation to Cameron for the United Kingdom's constant support in the region and for backing the socio-economic development of their people.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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