By hosting a meeting between the Taliban and other Afghan delegates, Moscow has greatly contributed to a peace process in Afghanistan, ex-President Hamid Karzai said, denouncing years of “failed” US military presence and policies.
“We would like to express our deep gratitude to the Russian government for the efforts it took to create conditions for the intra-Afghan meeting in Moscow,” Karzai told Sputnik news agency, adding that the two-day talks “exceeded all expectations.”
The former Afghan president called the talks a “historic step” and called Moscow’s approach “successful and effective.” Karzai spoke highly of Russia’s role and expressed his hope that Moscow would continue to contribute to intra-Afghan reconciliation until “Afghanistan gets back on its feet.”
In contrast, his assessment of the 18-year US-led military campaign in Afghanistan was far less positive. The NATO mission in Afghanistan has failed, Karzai said, adding that the military presence of American troops and their allies on Afghan soil had only led to “many people suffering at their hands.” The ex-president also said he would like to see all foreign troops withdrawing from his country “as soon as possible,” even though he admitted that it would likely be a “very difficult process.” Karzai also dismissed US claims about providing security for Afghanistan.
“Protecting our borders and defending ourselves is our duty. No foreign force can do that. We have already realized that it is just impossible,” he told Sputnik. The former president also said that it is the Afghan people, who should decide whether any foreign military bases should stay on the territory of Afghanistan.
The Americans should leave it to the Afghan people
Karzai’s words came days after Taliban representatives met in the Russian capital with other Afghan delegates, including the former president himself as well as other former government officials and some members of the Afghan diaspora in Russia. The current, US-backed Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, boycotted the event. It also rejected the key condition for peace set by the Taliban: the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.
Even the US has to admit that Russia played a “positive role” in the Afghan peace process, and rushed to call for peace talks itself. It would be best for Afghanistan if a peace agreement is reached before elections scheduled for July, the US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said on Friday.
We want to see the war end this year
Meanwhile, a number of US generals who’d fought in Afghanistan recently admitted that the US has de-facto lost that war. Some of them also warned that the current Afghan government would not have enough support to stay in power without a US military presence. The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, accusing the Taliban of harbouring Osama Bin Laden, the accused mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Bin Laden was tracked down and killed in Pakistan in 2011, but that fact did not stop the US from continuing its war in Afghanistan and to back the government in Kabul.