Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he has seen “no good” with the presence of American forces in his country, prompting further speculations of a breakdown of trust between Kabul and Washington.
“This whole 12 years was one of constant pleading with America to treat the lives of our civilians as lives of people,” Karzai said in an interview with The Sunday Times.
Karzai also said that he has not spoken to US President Barack Obama since June last year, which may show the increasing gulf between Afghanistan and the US.
“We met in South Africa but didn’t speak. Letters have been exchanged,” he said, referring to the funeral ceremony for South African anti-Apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.
The differences between the two sides have grown increasingly since Karzai refused to sign a security pact with Washington that would allow thousands of foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014.
“The money they should have paid to the police they paid to private security firms and creating militias who caused lawlessness, corruption and highway robbery,” Karzai said.
The Afghan president also went on to say that the US-led forces “then began systematically waging psychological warfare on our people, encouraging our money to go out of our country.”
“What they did was create pockets of wealth and a vast countryside of deprivation and anger,” he said.
“In general, the US-led NATO mission in terms of bringing security has not been successful, particularly in Helmand,” Karzai said.
He also dismissed concerns about the cutting of Western financial aid to Afghanistan over his refusal to sign the security deal.
“Money is not everything,” he said, adding, “If you ask me as an individual, I would rather live in poverty than uncertainty.”
On Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed deep frustration with Karzai over the prolongation of the review process for the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US.
The Pentagon chief, however, stated that Karzai is the elected president of a sovereign country, and Washington’s ability to influence his decisions is limited.
Karzai says he will not sign the BSA until certain conditions are met, including a guarantee from Washington that there will be no more raids on Afghan houses. He says the demands come from the country’s highest decision-making body, the Loya Jirga.
In his speech at the Loya Jirga on November 24, 2013, Karzai said, “If US military forces conduct military operations on Afghan homes even one more time, then there will be no BSA and we won’t sign it.”
The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after more than 12 years, the foreign troops have still not been able to establish security in the country.