Last week, the BBC interviewed Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who the Obama administration is currently attempting to persuade to agree to a status of forces agreement (SOFA) allowing U.S. troops to continue the war in his country. Karzai was rightfully critical of the U.S./NATO role:
“On the security front the entire Nato exercise was one that caused Afghanistan a lot of suffering, a lot of loss of life, and no gains because the country is not secure,” he said.
He said Nato had incorrectly focused the fight on Afghan villages rather than Taliban safe havens in Pakistan.
…In 2009, US President Barack Obama described Mr Karzai as an unreliable and ineffective partner. However, speaking to Newsnight Mr Karzai dismissed the claim saying he was characterised in this manner “because where they want us to go along, we don’t go along. They want us to keep silent when civilians are killed. We will not, we cannot”.
As for the Taliban, he suggested that the way forward would be to negotiate peace with them:
“The return of the Taliban will not undermine progress. This country needs to have peace. I am willing to stand for anything that will bring peace to Afghanistan and through that to promote the cause of the Afghan women better,” he said.
“I have no doubt that there will be more Afghan young girls and women studying and getting higher education and better job opportunities. There is no doubt about that; even if the Taliban come that will not end, that will not slow down,” he added.
Of the SOFA, he said:
“If the agreement doesn’t suit us then of course they can leave. The agreement has to suit Afghanistan’s interests and purposes. If it doesn’t suit us and if it doesn’t suit them then naturally we will go separate ways.”
But perhaps his most interesting comments were reported in the very last paragraphs of the article:
“Our government is weak and ineffective in comparison to other governments, we’ve just begun,” Mr Karzai said. “But the big corruption, the hundreds of millions of dollars of corruption, it was not Afghan. Now everybody knows that. It was foreign.
“The contracts, the subcontracts, the blind contracts given to people, money thrown around to buy loyalties, money thrown around to buy submissiveness of Afghan government officials, to policies and designs that the Afghans would not agree to. That was the major part of corruption,” he said.
The BBC doesn’t bother explaining Karzai’s remarks to readers, but the New York Times provided some context, also near the end of an article about the interview:
“…That was the major part of corruption,” Mr. Karzai said, apparently referring to the C.I.A.’s financing a slush fund for his office with monthly deliveries of cash.
Yes, suitcases of cash to and protection of Afghan drug lords, just so long as their connections are with the U.S.-backed regime rather than anti-government elements the media refer to as a monolithic “Taliban”.