Hypocrisy all around: Karzai tells foreigners to back off

President Hamid Karzai

After a summer of attempts to improve relations with the United States and its allies in Afghanistan, Karzai came out today with tough statements against foreign assistance. He said, according to the latest article in the Wall Street Journal, that foreign advisors should be replaced by Afghans.

He called for a ban on private security companies that are sent to protect a number of Western servicemembers in Afghanistan, saying “We have the ability to rule and govern our country and we have our sovereignty.”

Oh you do, do you?

“We hope that NATO countries and the U.S. pay attention,” he said.

The Wikileaks files along with the many reports of civilian casualties has lead to anti-American sentiment and overall loss of hope in the country. At the same time, the U.S. has promised to “start” withdrawing its troops and transitioning Afghan security forces by the summer of 2011. That means they committed to another year in the country in terms of security forces. Diplomatic efforts will continue long after 2011, they say. And that deadline, according to Sec. Clinton, is a “working deadline” and could change if circumstances change.

Just this weekend, 10 aid workers were killed, piling up the number of Western casualties of the war. The continued violence on top of Clinton’s repeated calls for corruption accountability have essentially diminished the good will we saw when Karzai visited in May.

A screenshot of Aisha, victim of abusive husband and antiquated laws in Afghanistan

Karzai made claims that security forces have received “illegal” salaries and are thieves during the day and terrorists during the night.”

What these companies do, in reality, is provide security for Western diplomats and organizations that provide aid and major infrastructure tools for Afghanistan. The article states that these companies are wary to hand control completely over to Afghan forces, which are often infiltrated by Taliban members.

According to Reuters, Congress has approved $345 billion so far to Afghanistan since 2001. Obama has asked for billions more and 30,000 extra soldiers. Will Congress be willing to fund the war when Karzai doesn’t even want foreign contractors there?

While Karzai is calling for a withdrawal, TIME, featuring an Afghan girl with her nose cut off, said “What Happens If we Leave Afghanistan.” We have a call for human rights, equality for women and the expulsion of misogynistic radical Taliban law while Karzai is telling the people of Afghanistan that foreign services need to leave.

I eagerly await a response from Obama and the State Department.

The Karzai Trip: What’s really in store for Afghanistan?

I am way behind on this, but I followed Karzai’s visit last week as well as reactions from key figures like Abdullah Abdullah. I attended Karzai’s talk at USIP and then Abdullah’s at the New America Foundation. I live tweeted both @RFE_Press_Room

For the past week, all eyes have been on Afghanistan with the arrival of President Karzai and his Cabinet for their week’s stay in D.C. Karzai met with President Obama, Secretary Clinton and had a chance to visit Walter Reed Hospital. While the trip was meant to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan, I’m not sure if it went beyond that.

I was able to attend the USIP wrap-up talk with Clinton and Karzai, which turned into a bit of a love fest with only one hard-hitting question from the press (they only took about three or four questions anyway).

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