- Afghanistan - Taliban - USA
Karzai slams US for blocking civilian shootings probe
Afghan President Hamid Karzai attacked the US Friday for failing to cooperate with an investigation into the massacre of 16 civilians allegedly carried out by an American soldier on the weekend. Karzai said the US stance “could not be tolerated”.
AP - Afghan President Hamid Karzai lashed out at the United States on Friday, saying he is at the “the end of the rope” because of the lack of U.S. cooperation into a probe of a killing spree allegedly carried out by an American soldier.
In a meeting with families of the 16 Afghan civilians killed Sunday in southern Afghanistan, Karzai said the delegation he sent to investigate the shootings did not receive the cooperation the Afghans expected from American officials.
During the meeting, the relatives of the dead insisted there must have been more than one shooter and argued that they did not receive all the information they asked for from Americans.
Previously, Afghan officials had said that there was surveillance video that was kept from them.
“This has been going on for too long. This is by all means the end of the rope here,” Karzai told reporters at the end of the meeting.
“This form of activity, this behavior, cannot be tolerated. It’s past, past, past the time,” Karzai added.
The Afghan leader stressed that he wants a good relationship with the U.S. but that it is becoming increasingly difficult. He insisted that the U.S. needs to respect Afghan culture and laws.
On Thursday, the American campaign in Afghanistan suffered two punishing blows as the Taliban announced they were breaking off talks with the U.S. and Karzai tried to speed up the transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan forces and said the international forces should pull out of rural areas.
A statement released by Karzai’s office said that during his meeting with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the president “requested that the international forces come out of Afghan villages and stay in their bases” following the shootings in Kandahar.
Karzai also said that the “Afghan security forces have the ability to provide security in the villages of our country,” the statement said.
Afghan officials said Karzai wanted the pullback to start now, but U.S. officials said he did not tell Panetta that it should happen immediately.
The Taliban said they were calling off the talks because U.S. had failed to follow through on its promises and made new demands. The militant group also said the U.S. falsely claimed that it had entered into multilateral negotiations that included the Afghan government.
Karzai also said Friday that the Taliban should be talking directly with his government.
The moves represent new setbacks to America’s strategy for ending the 10-year-old war at a time when support for the conflict is plummeting.
Part of the U.S. exit strategy is to transfer authority gradually to Afghan forces. Another tack is to pull the Taliban into political discussions with the Afghan government, though it’s unclear that there has been any progress since January.