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Former Afghan President Blasts U.S., Foreign Military Campaign

  • RFE/RL

KABUL -- Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has shed some light on his administration's troubled relationship with Washington, describing his country as a young boy pitted against a muscular, weapon-toting "bully."

"When that strong, muscular guy begins to beat this 7-, 8-year old boy in the street, the only tool he has is to cry loud and to let people know that he is being attacked," Karzai said. "I had no other means to salvage Afghanistan from the excesses, the violence, and the mistreatment by the foreign military presence here other than to speak -- and speak loud."

The comments came in a wide-ranging interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan in Kabul on November 16, in which Karzai reflected on his 13 years in power and also fired off a number of parting shots.

"I wanted the West to come to Afghanistan, thinking that the West would bring help and liberation to Afghanistan," he told RFE/RL Regional Director Akbar Ayazi.

But his views began to change, he said, when he saw that his country was often treated as if it did not exist and that "our people, our casualties, were numbers rather than human beings who had suffered."

Karzai listed the "night raids, the bombardments, the arrests and imprisonments of Afghans in their own country" as among the negative aspects of the U.S. and NATO military presence in Afghanistan.

But worse, Karzai said, was the "neglect" of the presence of sanctuaries and training grounds for militants in neighboring Pakistan.

He claimed that U.S. officials and generals would admit in closed-door discussions that they knew terrorists were being trained in Pakistan and that Afghanistan was under attack, but at the same time "they would stop us from speaking out and not do anything about it."

When he began to speak out during his second term, the former president said, Kabul's relationship with Washington became "extremely tense."

"I sensed that there was a broader interest at issue for the United States and I wanted to protect Afghanistan from being stepped over in pursuit of that interest of the United States," he said, adding that "after the signing of the strategic partnership, it became even more clear."

The 2012 agreement committed the United States to defending Afghanistan in the event of foreign aggression, according to Karzai. But just days after it was signed, he said, Afghanistan was hit by gun and rocket fire from Pakistan and "the U.S. not only did not help stop attacks from Pakistan, they tried to hide it and deny it."

WATCH: Karzai blames Washington for Taliban "sanctuaries" in Pakistan

It was then, he said, that he became "extremely suspicious" and decided that he would not give the United States the Bilateral Security Agreement it sought in order to maintain a long-term troop presence in Afghanistan "until the United States gave us a clear pledge" that it would bring peace to Afghanistan.

"They did not give me that clear pledge," he said. "I began to feel that these documents are meaningless, that in the eyes of the United States they have no real value."

Turning to U.S. and international reconstruction efforts, Karzai said that "there was massive corruption" that was "deliberately caused" by the way international and U.S. support was given to Afghanistan.

"It was designed to cause weakness in the Afghan government," Karzai alleged. "To divide people, to buy loyalties, and then to blackmail people through those resources spent to cause corruption."

Karzai said that he did not consider the U.S.-led military campaign "a total failure." However, he added, "it has not brought what we expected."

"I was a great friend of the West, and a supporter of their presence in Afghanistan," he said. "Now I am a great friend of the West, but with a note [caveat]."

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