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Posts tagged ‘Hamid Karzai’

Graham: Karzai ‘Empowers’ Taliban By Freeing Afghan Thugs.


Sen. Lindsey Graham has accused Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai of “empowering” Taliban terrorists by releasing 65 dangerous Afghan “thugs” from jail.

The South Carolina Republican, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, condemned Karzai for freeing the prisoners who pose an immediate threat to U.S., Afghan, and allied forces in the war-torn country, McClatchy reports.

“Karzai is doing a lot of damage to his country and to the relationship between us and Afghanistan,” said Graham, who once traded jokes with Karzai over dinners at his presidential palace in Kabul.

“He’s undercutting a relationship (with the U.S.) that most Afghans want and empowering the Taliban…

“The Taliban look at something like this (the release of prisoners), and they’ve got to be encouraged. I’ve been to that prison dozens of times, and it makes my blood boil to see these thugs walk out of there.”

Graham said he’s been unable to confirm reports that Karzai has held secret talks with the Taliban, Muslim fanatics who ruled the country and imposed strict Islamic laws there until the U.S. invasion in October 2001.

Although the Taliban have recently launched a new offensive in the region, Graham said, “(Karzai) doesn’t treat the Taliban as an insurgency. He calls them ‘wayward brothers’ rather than thugs that are killing people.”

“I’ve known Karzai for 10 years, but he’s getting completely irrational. He’s totally detached from the reality about what’s going on in his own country.”

Graham, who has made several trips to Afghanistan as a senator and as an Air Force Reserve colonel, even met with Karzai in Kabul last month, along with Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and pleaded with him to keep the “thugs” behind bars, McClatchy reported.

But Karzai dismissed them, saying that the national detention center in Parwan that housed the inmates and was built with U.S. funds was “a black hole.” Although the jail is guarded by U.S. troops, the Karzai government has authority over the handling of prisoners and claims the 65 detainees were being held without cause.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of U.S troops in Afghanistan, attacked Karzai’s decision because he believes that some of the freed prisoners will join forces with the Taliban insurgency.

“They have killed Afghan men, women and children,” Dunford said, noting that two dozen inmates were tied to roadside bombs, the number one killer of Afghan citizens. “We believe some of the individuals previously released have already returned to the fight.”

Now a furious Graham is fighting back by demanding that Congress cuts off U.S. reconstruction aid to Afghanistan, and he’s enlisted the support of House Speaker John Boehner.

“After years of fighting alongside our Afghan partners — who have sustained serious casualties themselves from common enemies — this decision is especially egregious,” said Boehner.

The tense relations between Afghanistan and the U.S. have sunk to an all-time low, with U.S. officials claiming that Karzai has gone back on a bilateral agreement to keep a small military contingent in the country after the remaining 34,000 U.S. troops pull out by the end of the year.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House may now wait until Karzai leaves office in April before attempting to sign a new pact with the next government to keep peace-keeping troops on the ground there.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Drew MacKenzie

Hagel Voices Frustration with Afghan Foot-Dragging.


Expressing growing impatience, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday he doesn’t know what to believe about new assurances from Afghanistan that President Hamid Karzai is moving closer to signing a pact to keep American troops in his country next year as advisers.

“What is coming out of the presidential palace today, or what President Karzai says today, I don’t know,” Hagel told a news conference in Warsaw. “It changes constantly.”

Hagel pointedly noted that Karzai had “agreed — personally agreed — to the bilateral security agreement” negotiated between the two nations last year, yet continues to balk at signing it.

The deal would allow some U.S. service members to remain and keep training Afghan soldiers after most of the 39,000 troops now there withdraw. The 12-year-old U.S. combat mission is set to end in December.

The Obama administration has indicated it might be willing to keep as many as 10,000 military trainers in Afghanistan to advise forces fighting the Taliban insurgency.

Earlier, on his overnight flight from Washington to Warsaw, Hagel told reporters that Karzai’s foot-dragging puts at risk the planning necessary for a post-combat mission.

“You can’t just keep deferring and deferring,” he said, “because at some point, the realities of planning and budgeting — it collides.”

Since the new year, the Obama administration has repeatedly said it needs an agreement signed in weeks, not months, if it is to keep any troops in Afghanistan in 2015.

In Kabul on Thursday, Karzai’s national security adviser voiced optimism about the pact.

Rangin Dadfar Spanta said he has grown more hopeful that the Afghan leader will sign the agreement before leaving office this year. Karzai has repeatedly said he wants to wait to sign the document until after the country chooses his successor in April 5 elections.

At a news conference, Spanta said intense talks in the last few days have made him “more optimistic” that the stalemate can be broken.

“We are working very intensively together with the United States authorities to reach and sign this agreement soon,” Spanta said. “I cannot go today into detail, but I don’t know — since two, three, four days, I am more optimistic compared to last week. Let us wait a few days more.”

If the deal falls apart, Afghanistan could lose up to $15 billion a year in aid, effectively collapsing its fragile economy and making it unable to pay its 350,000-strong army and police.

Hagel, who was visiting Polish leaders to consult on Afghanistan and other security issues, sounded skeptical at his news conference in Warsaw when asked about Spanta’s remarks.

Saying that the Afghan president’s position keeps changing, Hagel noted that U.S. officials, including Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top US military commander in Afghanistan, have pressed Karzai and “talk with him constantly.” But they have limited ability to influence his decision, Hagel said.

He added that U.S. allies who are willing to help train and advise Afghan forces beyond 2014 also are eager to know if there will be a U.S.-Afghan security agreement soon.

Insurgents in Afghanistan have intensified attacks recently in a campaign to regain territory as foreign forces prepare to leave the country.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com.

Karzai Said to Believe US Behind Attacks Claimed by Taliban.


Image: Karzai Said to Believe US Behind Attacks Claimed by Taliban

By Elliot Jager

Afghan President Hamid Karzai believes the United States has conducted a series of bombings and terror attacks in his country as part of a campaign to destabilize his regime and draw attention away from airstrikes that caused civilian casualties.

Citing unnamed senior Afghan officials, The Washington Post reported late Monday thatKarzai blames the U.S. for the Jan. 17 bombing of a popular Lebanese-style restaurant in Kabul that killed 21 people, among them three Americans, as well as assaults on the Justice Ministry in Kabul and a provincial courthouse that took 50 lives.

The Taliban has taken credit for the attacks, but Karzai still blames the U.S., pro-Karzai sources told the Post, because he believes the attack against the restaurant was “too sophisticated to be the handiwork of [the] Taliban.” The Post also noted that Karzai has acknowledged there is no evidence to back up his charges.

In response, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, James Cunningham, told the Post, “It’s a deeply conspiratorial view that’s divorced from reality.”

He suggested Karzai’s claims could be part of an effort to “throw us off balance” because he has yet to sign a security agreement already negotiated that would leave a substantial U.S. military presence in the country beyond the scheduled withdrawal date at the end of this year.

“It flies in the face of logic and morality to think that we would aid the enemy we’re trying to defeat,” said Cunningham.

Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, also said that “any suggestion that the U.S. has been involved in any way in suicide attacks or deliberate attacks on Afghan civilians is ludicrous.

“We have spent 12 years trying to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan in the face of threats from terrorist and insurgent networks . . . To suggest otherwise does a grave disservice to those who have sacrificed for the people of Afghanistan.”

The latest claim from Karzai follows a charge he made last year alleging the U.S. had joined with the Taliban to conspire against him, The Christian Science Monitor reported at the time.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

WashPost: Afghan’s Karzai Won’t Meet US Deadline on Security Deal.


Image: WashPost: Afghan's Karzai Won't Meet US Deadline on Security Deal

WASHINGTON — U.S. efforts to persuade Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a long-term security agreement according to Washington’s timetable will likely fail, the lead American negotiator has warned the Obama administration, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

In a classified cable that the Post said was transmitted in recent days, U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham wrote that he did not think Karzai would agree to sign the agreement before Afghanistan’s presidential election in April, the newspaper said, citing U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Relations between the two countries are already near breaking point over Karzai’s refusal to sign the security deal to shape the U.S. military presence after most foreign troops leave this year

The United States wants the Afghanistan government to sign the agreement in matter of weeks if a contingent of U.S. troops is to remain there after 2014, the White House said on Monday.

Without a deal, the United States could pull out all troops, the “zero option,” leaving Afghan forces to battle the Taliban on their own.

Karzai has called that an empty threat and suggested any security deal could wait until after the April elections.

The United States has 46,000 troops in Afghanistan, but that figure is set to fall to 34,000 by early 2014.

In a another move likely to strain U.S.-Afghan ties, a spokesman for Karzai said on Thursday that Afghanistan had enough evidence to try only 16 of 88 prisoners the United States considers a threat to security and plans to free the remaining detainees.

Washington strongly opposes their release because it says the prisoners being held in Afghanistan have been involved in the wounding or killing of U.S. and coalition troops.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmaxworld.com/GlobalTalk/afghanistan-karzai-security-deal/2014/01/10/id/546339#ixzz2q1zjH9Jy
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US to Afghans: Sign Security Deal in ‘Weeks Not Months’.


The United States wants the Afghanistan government to sign a bilateral security agreement in matter of weeks if a contingent of U.S. troops is to remain there after 2014, the White House said on Monday.

The Afghan government had ignored U.S. demands for it to sign a framework security agreement by the end of 2013, after protracted negotiations that have strained relations between the two countries.

U.S. officials say unless a deal is reached to keep upwards of 8,000 U.S. troops inside the country after 2014, the United States might instead completely withdraw from the country.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has expressed skepticism at the U.S. threat for a complete withdrawal.

“Our position continues to be that if we cannot conclude a bilateral security agreement promptly, then we will be forced to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no U.S. or NATO troop presence in Afghanistan,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

Without a deal, the United States could pull out all troops, the so-called “zero option,” leaving Afghan forces to battle the Taliban on their own.

Carney said the longer the issue drags into 2014, “the more likely that outcome will come to pass” in which the United States would leave no troops behind for the training of Afghan forces or counter-terrorism purposes.

“Look, I don’t have specific deadlines or other policy decisions to announce today. But I can tell you that we are talking about weeks, and not months. And, you know, the clock is ticking,” Carney said.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Afghanistan: 88 Prisoners to be Freed, Despite US Concern.


KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan will release 88 prisoners as planned even though the United States considers them dangerous and wants them to remain in detention, the board reviewing their cases told Reuters.

The prisoners are being held at a jail at the Bagram air base north of Kabul. The United States only recently transferred the prison to Afghan control after it had become a serious source of tension with the Afghan government.

President Hamid Karzai instructed Afghan intelligence officials to provide the review board with more evidence against the prisoners, after the United States said there was proof of their involvement in the killing of foreign troops and they posed a serious threat to security.

But the head of the review board, Abdul Shakor Dadras, said the evidence did not warrant keeping the prisoners any longer.

“The documents we have seen so far provide no reason to convict them,” Dadras told Reuters by telephone late on Sunday. “Our decision is to release them as soon as possible if there is no incriminating evidence against them.”

The disagreement over the prisoners is a further strain on Afghan-U.S. relations already seriously soured by Karzai’s refusal to sign a bilateral security deal to shape the U.S. military presence after most foreign troops leave this year.

U.S. senators in Afghanistan last week pressed the president to stop the release, warning it would irreparably damage relations with the United States.

The planned release has also alarmed many senior Afghan security officials, who often see released prisoners return to the battlefield.

U.S. officials say about 40 percent of the prisoners were involved in attacks in which 57 Afghan civilians and members of the Afghan security forces were killed or wounded.

Thirty percent of the prisoners had taken part in direct attacks that killed or wounded 60 members of Afghanistan’s U.S.-led NATO force.

Karzai’s office did not immediately comment.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

US Opposes Release of 88 Afghan Prisoners, Adding to Strains.


KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States wants Afghanistan to halt the release of 88 prisoners from an Afghan jail because they pose a serious threat to security, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, adding to strains between the two sides.

The United States only recently transferred the prison at Bagram to Afghan control after it had become a serious source of tension with the government in Afghanistan which is fighting a Taliban-led insurgency.

Relations with Afghanistan have grown particularly strained over President Hamid Karzai‘s refusal to sign a bilateral security deal that would keep around 8,000 U.S. troops in the country after 2014, when most foreign forces are due to leave.

A U.S. army official said the release of the 88 contravened a presidential decree to complete investigations at the prison and prosecute individuals when required.

“The Afghan Review Board has exceeded its mandate and ordered the release of a number of dangerous individuals who are legitimate threats and for whom there is strong evidence supporting prosecution or further investigation,” said Colonel Dave Lapan, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The United States long resisted handing over the facility — because it feared individuals it considered dangerous would be released — but ultimately reached a deal with the Afghan government in early 2013.

About 40 percent of the prisoners were directly responsible for wounding or killing 57 Afghan civilians and security forces, and 30 percent had participated in direct attacks that killed or wounded 60 U.S. and coalition troops, a U.S. official said.

The head of the Afghan commission charged with reviewing the cases denied that the 88 posed a threat.

“In many cases, detainees were wrongly linked to certain incidents they were not involved in,” said Abdul Shakor Dadras.

The planned release will however alarm many senior Afghan security sources, who often see released prisoners return to the battlefield.

The bilateral security deal has to be signed for the United States and its allies to provide billions more dollars in aid.

Without a deal, the United States could pull all of its troops out, the so-called zero option, leaving Afghan forces to battle the Taliban on their own.

Karzai however has said the deal can wait until after presidential elections, scheduled for April, and that the “zero option” is an empty threat.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Intelligence Estimate: Bleak Outlook for Afghanistan After US Drawdown.


Image: Intelligence Estimate: Bleak Outlook for Afghanistan After US DrawdownU.S. soldiers inspect the site of a car bombing outside Kabul, Afghanistan on Dec. 11

By Elliot Jager

When American troops leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014, the Taliban will gain ground and the country will probably descend into chaos, according to a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, the Washington Post reported.

The gains achieved by the 2009 troop surge will likely be wiped out.

With Afghan President Hamid Karzai refusing to sign a security agreement that would authorize a contingent of American and international troops to conduct counterterrorism operations and continue training Afghan forces beyond 2014, the estimate takes a bleak view of Afghanistan by 2017.

This downbeat intelligence prognosis is not unanimously shared.

Pessimists see years of U.S. gains being squandered with the Kabul government ultimately losing the big cities. Even if several thousand troops stay behind to conduct counter-terror operations and for training purposes and even if Congress continues to bankroll the country. The intelligence estimate could bolster those who would like to see the U.S. pullout accelerated, the Post reported.

Optimists — including some in the Obama administration — say the capabilities of the Afghan army are being underestimated and that the Taliban will be pressured to sue for peace. One administration official said the intelligence estimate is intended only to highlight “potential upsides and downsides” to U.S. policy.

Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations sees continued stalemate in the years ahead depending on how much financial backing the U.S. provides the Kabul government.

If Karzai ultimately agrees to a deal regulating the U.S. and international presence, the country would continue to receive billions in U.S. and other aid.

As of December 28 the number of service personnel killed this year in Afghanistan stands at 127 for a total of 2,301 since America’s longest war began in 2001.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Six US Troops Killed in Afghanistan Aircraft Crash.


KABUL, Afghanistan — Six U.S. soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, NATO said, the largest death toll in a single incident to hit the international force in months.

“The cause of the crash is under investigation; however, initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time,” a NATO statement said.

U.S. defense officials said the soldiers killed in the crash, which occurred in Afghanistan’s southern Zabul province, were American. One person survived the crash but suffered injuries.

Zabul’s deputy governor, Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar, said a crash had taken place in the Shah Joy district of Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman claimed on Twitter that Taliban militants had shot down a helicopter on Tuesday in the same district. The Taliban often claims responsibility for incidents in which it is not involved.

Aircraft crashes are not uncommon in mountainous Afghanistan.

The worst such incident was in August 2011 when the Taliban shot down a transport helicopter, killing all 38 people on board, including 25 U.S. special operations soldiers.

The Pentagon said that about 67,000 NATO-led troops remain in Afghanistan, including about 43,000 from the United States. Foreign forces are looking to curtail their decade-long fight there.

The United States continues to press Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a bilateral security deal that would allow Washington to keep some troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of next year.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Karzai Unmoved by US Troop Withdrawal Threat if Afghan Pact Unsigned.


NEW DELHI — Afghan President Hamid Karzai Saturday dismissed U.S. talk of a total military withdrawal from Afghanistan if he didn’t sign a security agreement as brinkmanship and said he wouldn’t back down on his conditions for the deal.

Karzai was in New Delhi in a burst of regional diplomacy as his ties with Washington have come under renewed strain over his refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that will shape U.S. military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014 when most international troops will leave.

He told reporters that the United States would have to stop the practice of raiding Afghan homes and help restart a peace process with the Taliban as necessary conditions for the security pact.

“We do believe that the BSA is in the interest of Afghanistan and the Afghan people have given their approval. But we also believe that protection of Afghan homes and the launch of a peace process are absolute prerequisites,” he said.

If Karzai doesn’t sign the deal, Washington says it will have to withdraw its entire force of some 44,500 troops by the end of 2014. Other NATO nations could follow suit leaving Afghan forces to fight the Taliban insurgency on their own.

The complete withdrawal, called the “zero option,” would be similar to the pull-out of U.S. troops from Iraq two years ago. Violence there is now at its highest level in at least five years, and more than 8,000 people have been killed this year, the United Nations says.

“I don’t think America is thinking of the zero option , its brinkmanship they play with us, and even if they did, then come what may,” the Afghan leader said.

U.S. officials have appeared exasperated by Karzai’s stance on the security agreement, which they say is needed to help them plan a future mission that will assist Afghan forces fight militants and that will allow for future aid crucial for the impoverished nation.

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week that the delay in finalizing the deal — which U.S. officials had hoped Karzai would sign weeks ago — would impose “damages and costs” on Afghans.

But he added that the Obama administration was not on the verge of abandoning its effort to extend its troop presence in the country.

The security agreement would allow for the presence of nearly 15,000 U.S. and other NATO troops at nine locations around the country, Karzai said.

The agreement includes a provision allowing military raids on Afghan homes in exceptional circumstances — when an American life is directly under threat — but it would not take effect until 2015.

The issue is particularly sensitive among Afghans after a dozen years of war between Afghan and foreign forces and Taliban militants.

Karzai said he also wanted the United States to help him start an open and public peace process with the Taliban, rather than the secret diplomacy it had engaged in in the past.

“Secret talks won’t help,” he said. “U.S. and Pakistan have enough influence over the Taliban to relaunch the peace process.”

Karzai, who discussed the U.S. security deal with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has also held talks with the leaders of Iran and Pakistan this month.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

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