Former president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai lambasted the U.S. in an interview published on Sunday, saying it had failed at its mission to bring stability and fight extremism since the war in Afghanistan began nearly 20 years ago.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Karzai said the U.S. and NATO troops being withdrawn from Afghanistan are leaving behind a disaster.
“The international community came here 20 years ago with this clear objective of fighting extremism and bringing stability ... but extremism is at the highest point today. So they have failed,” Karzai told the news agency.
“We recognize as Afghans all our failures, but what about the bigger forces and powers who came here for exactly that purpose? Where are they leaving us now?” Karzai asked.
Answering his own question Karzai said his country was being left “in total disgrace and disaster."
However, Karzai said he wants the troops the leave so Afghans can pursue peace, saying it was time for them to take responsibility for their future.
“We will be better off without their military presence,” the former Afghan leader said. AP reported that Karzai has often had a conflicted relationship with the U.S., often being a harsh critic while also facilitating peace talks between Afghan leadership and Western powers.
Despite leaving office in 2014, the AP notes that Karzai still carries a great deal of political influence in Afghanistan and is often at the center of the country's politics.
“I think we should defend our own country and look after our own lives. ... Their presence (has given us) what we have now. ... We don’t want to continue with this misery and indignity that we are facing. It is better for Afghanistan that they leave," he added.
“The [US/NATO military] campaign was not against extremism or terrorism, the campaign was more against Afghan villages and hopes; putting Afghan people in prisons, creating prisons in our own country ... and bombing all villages. That was very wrong," Karzai said.
The AP notes that the Taliban has made a great deal of progress since the U.S. and NATO began withdrawing from Afghanistan, overrunning dozens of districts and carrying out an assault in the Faryab province last week that killed 22 elite Afghan commandos.
Addressing both sides of the conflict, Karzai said, "The two Afghan sides, none of them should be fighting.”
“I’m very emphatic and clear about this, both sides should think of the lives of the Afghan people and the property... fighting is destruction," he added. “The only answer is Afghans getting together. ... We must recognize that this is our country and we must stop killing each other.”