Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement on Wednesday declaring he “very strongly opposes” the strategy announced by U.S. President Donald Trump because it is “against peace and the national interest of Afghanistan.”
“The strategy excludes bringing peace and prosperity to Afghanistan and is focused on more war and rivalry in the region. The U.S. must seek peace and stability in Afghanistan rather than extending conflict and bloodshed in Afghanistan and the region,” Karzai added, as quoted by Afghan news agency Khaama Press.
In an interview from Kabul, Karzai slammed the international intervention in Afghanistan. “We have more radicalism, we have more extremism, we have more attacks all around—that is failure. And more terrorist groups emerging. It is failure,” he said.
Karzai said he had “God knows how many conversations, appeals, pleadings with the United States or with other big partners” in the intervention during his two terms as president of Afghanistan.
“Had they listened to Afghans, had they adopted an approach that was suitable to the environment, Afghanistan would have been a very different country today,” he insisted.
Karzai accused the U.S.-led coalition of indiscriminately attacking civilians.
“They got it wrong by targeting Afghan homes, Afghan villages, Afghan people and not the sanctuaries outside of Afghanistan, in Pakistan. They targeted us, Afghan people, not the terrorists, not the sanctuaries, not those who perpetrated this against us and against our partners,” he charged.
“The Americans began to make these grave mistakes, in spite of us telling them every day, in every meeting, at all levels, from the President of the United States down to the generals and officers and diplomatic representatives,” Karzai complained. “They didn’t listen, now of course they regret, but it’s kind of late in the day.”
Politico notes that President Trump has criticized Karzai in years past for “talking down to the United States” and showing “zero respect” despite receiving “tens of millions of dollars in cash from the U.S. government.”
The Politico report also observes that Karzai “pardoned dozens of child suicide bombers who later attempted to detonate suicide bombs again, let electoral fraud run rampant, forged Taliban connections and mixed personal interests with his leadership” during his term as Afghan president.
The current Afghan administration applauded President Trump’s plan on Tuesday, although CBS News said it was told by Afghan military commanders that they would like to see more U.S. troops fighting on the front lines to help them against the Taliban.
Afghanistan’s current president, Ashraf Ghani, thanked President Trump for his “affirmation of support for our efforts to achieve self-reliance and for our joint struggle to rid the region from the threat of terrorism.”
Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States, Hamdullah Mohib, scored the Trump plan a “10 out of 10,” and said it was exactly what the Afghan people needed to hear. He also praised President Trump for calling out Pakistan’s role in supporting the Taliban insurgency.
Karzai has been out of power for years, but he is still considered both influential and controversial in Afghanistan.
Among other recent antics, he described the Islamic State as a “tool” of the United States and said he does not “differentiate at all between Daesh [ISIS] and America.” He accused his successor President Ashraf Ghani of “treason” for allowing the United States to drop “a device equal to an atom bomb” on Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan in April.