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Published On: Fri, Oct 13th, 2017

Karzai called for Grand Assembly to discuss Trump’s Afghan strategy to stop war and regional rivalries

nsnbc : Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai continued his criticism of the new U.S. strategy for South Asia and Afghanistan. Karzai asserted that it does not bring a message of peace but instead increases war and fuels regional rivalries. Karzai stressed that he is calling for a Loya Jirga or Grand Assembly to prevent that Afghanistan again becomes a victim of rivalries of great powers. He also calls on the Taliban to also participate to find a peaceful settlement.

Hamid Karzai_Afghanistan_2017Ex-President Hamid Karzai addressed a news conference in the Afghan capital Kabul and disclosed that he has written a formal letter to President Ashraf Ghani, urging him to urgently convene an emergency Loya Jirga – a traditional Grand Assembly of Elders – for discussing Trump’s war plan and finding a way out of the conflict. Karzai insisted that the Loya Jirga was needed to prevent Afghanistan from again “becoming the victim of rivalries of big powers”.

Karzai stressed that he also has written a letter to the Taliban calling on them to attend the meeting to help find a politically negotiated settlement to the Afghan war. “America’s new strategy for Afghanistan does not bring us a message of peace but a message of more hostilities and increases regional rivalries,” said Karzai, who himself is being accused of stoking rivalries between Russia and the U.S. by issuing such statements.

Karzai said the regional cooperation Kabul and the United States were receiving until a few years ago in their efforts to stabilize Afghanistan has diminished and instead turned into a rivalry. He apparently was referring to increasing contacts Russia and Iran have established with the Taliban while the insurgent group continues to use sanctuaries in Pakistan. This year Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard troops have also been observed in north-western Afghanistan.

The presence of proxies, including Iranian has long been known and published, among others by Pakistani Major (r( Agha H. Amin Map plottings, Major (r) Agha Humayum Amin

The presence of proxies, including Russian, Iranian and Pakistani ones has long been known and published, among others by Pakistani Major (r( Agha H. Amin Map plottings, Major (r) Agha Humayum Amin

“No I am not,” Karzai replied when asked about allegations he was fueling conflict between major powers. “I am trying to bring a balance back in Afghanistan. I am trying to create an environment of cooperation between the big powers in Afghanistan and the neighbors because that is what we need exactly, and very much badly in our country,” he insisted.

Karzai has been among a few prominent Afghans who have opposed from the outset President Trump’s strategy that he outlined in August. The plan allowed a modest U.S. troop surge and stepped up airpower to help Afghan security forces break the military stalemate with the Taliban. Karzai also opposed the agreement signed between the USA and Afghanistan under the Obama administration that gave US troops free hands in conducting anti-terrorism operations without the need to have permission from, or coordinate with the Afghan government and military.

President Ashraf Ghani’s National Unity Government and many Afghans in general have welcome the new U.S. plan, hoping it will enable Afghan forces to reverse Taliban gains and pave the ground for a peaceful settlement to the Afghan war. Ghani’s spokesman, Shah Hussain Murtazawi, dismissed Karzai’s assertions, saying the Afghan government is moving in the right direction to ensure security of its citizens.

“America’s new strategy is for permanent peace and stability in the region and is based on views of the [Afghan] people and the government [of Afghanistan]. Foreign forces are only advising and training Afghan forces who are leading and themselves conducting security operations,” Murtazawi noted.

Karzai, on the other hand, also questioned the emergence of Islamic State in Afghanistan (ISIS-K) in the last few years, citing the development for Moscow and other nations, including Tehran, to engage with the Taliban in order to keep the Syria-based terrorist group from threatening their territorial boundaries using “ungoverned” Afghan spaces. “It is for the last four years, five years that they [Russia and other nations] have taken a different attitude because of the emergence of Daesh, because of the emergence of those other radical groups. They are wondering why? How come? Because the U.S. presence here was supposed to end extremism not to add to extremism,” lamented the former Afghan leader.

Russian and Iranian officials have acknowledged maintaining contacts with the Taliban, which controls or contests more than 40 percent of Afghan territory. Qatar also maintains official ties to the Taliban. China has held official talks with the Taliban this year. Moscow, Islamabad and Tehran have expressed concerns that the continuation of hostilities, particularly in Afghan border regions, will create security challenges for them.

CH/L – nsnbc 13.10.2017

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