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Karzai comments

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s ridiculous accusation of American collusion with the Taliban dishonors U.S. troops and undermines the cooperation that will be essential in the coming months to safely withdraw American forces.

President Karzai claimed that a Taliban bombing that killed 19 people “served America” and “aimed to prolong the presence of the American forces in Afghanistan” by creating instability that would call for a prolonged U.S. presence beyond the 2014 planned departure of all but a limited number of troops. The Afghan leader also accused the Obama administration of holding secret peace talks with the Taliban.

The allegations were an insult to visiting Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who cancelled a joint press conference, which American officials attributed to security concerns.

Since then, seven Americans have died in Afghanistan. A helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan Monday killed five American service members, although the cause of the crash is under investigation. Earlier in the day an Afghan policeman killed two U.S. special operations forces in eastern Afghanistan, bringing to 12 the number of Americans killed there this year. Last year, 297 U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan.

President Karzai’s comments came just after he accused American-backed Afghan forces of torturing and killing Afghan civilians and demanded that the special operations forces leave Wardak province, which the White House rejected. But these are just the latest offensive comments by President Karzai.

He is angry over the failure to hand over to Afghanistan control of U.S.-run Bagram Prison.

Last year, he compared Americans to occupiers who were in Afghanistan “for their own purposes, for their own goals, and they’re using our soil for that.” He accused the administration of conspiring against his re-election in 2009.

The Afghan president’s claims also contradict stated American intent to draw down the 66,000 U.S. troops in the coming months and reduce its combat role in Afghanistan as that country’s security forces assume more responsibility. After 2014, a residual U.S. force of a few thousand troops will remain.

President Karzai’s remarks are clearly intended for a domestic audience, but they are a disservice to Americans, more than 2,000 of whom have died in 12 years of war that has cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

The Obama administration remains committed to its current plan to end U.S. involvement, but President Karzai’s periodic outbursts cause Americans to question that commitment to help Afghans rebuild their country.

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