This is nothing unusual. It has helped us a lot, it has solved lots of our problems. We appreciate it. …This is cash. It is the choice of the U.S. government. If tomorrow the State Department decides to give us such cash, I’d welcome that, too.Afghan President Hamid Karzai • Responding to criticisms of cash payments (reportedly literal bags of cash), sent from the CIA directly to Karzai’s presidential palace in Kabul. Karzai suggested that the money was used for such diverse purposes as paying off warlords, funding scholarships and tending to wounded members of the presidential guard, though this explanation leaves unattended the main criticisms that have been waged at both his administration and the CIA over this — corruption, opacity, and accountability. Both present and former Afghan sources indicated in reports last week that the cash amount delivered in this manner, over the last decade or so, totaled tens of millions of dollars, while Karzai himself said they were “not allowed to disclose” the official figure. source
I recognize that many Americans are tired of war. I will not keep Americans in harm’s way a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security. But we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan, and end this war responsibly.President Barack Obama • Speaking in a televised speech in Afghanistan, hours after landing at a military base near Kabul in a surprise visit. While emphasizing the need to end the war — the last combat troops are expected to leave in 2014 — he spoke of the importance of seeing the mission through. “The goal that I set, to defeat Al Qaeda and deny it the chance to rebuild, is now within our reach,” he said. While in Afghanistan, the president signed a document with Afghan president Hamid Karzai “Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement,” meant to clarify the American role in the country after the war.
Afghan security forces have the ability to keep the security in rural areas and in villages on their own.Afghan leader Hamid Karzai • Saying in a statement that he wants international troops out of Afghan villages for good, in the wake of a deadly shooting of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier. In related news, peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and U.S. broke down Thursday.
This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven.Afghan President Hamid Karzai • Using tough words in discussing the mass killing of 16 Afghan civilians, allegedly at the hands of a U.S. soldier. Karzai says he’s asked the U.S. to stop killing Afghan civilians many times in the past, but the latest incident seems to have put him over the edge.
» Another blow to U.S.-Afghan relations: With the killing of civilians allegedly at the hands of a U.S. soldier in Kandahar Province, tensions in the region are further rising, just weeks after a Koran-burning incident brought relations between the two countries to an all-time low. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says that 9 children and 3 women were among those killed. “This is a deeply regrettable incident and we extend our thoughts and concerns to the families involved,” the U.S. said in a statement, promising an investigation would follow. The U.S. Embassy also urged calm.
I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident. I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies. … The error was inadvertent. I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.President Obama • Apologizing to Afghan president Hamid Karzai about the Koran-burning incident earlier this week, which has sparked widespread demonstration in the country and led to the deaths of at least eight people — the most recent of which happened when a man, wearing an Afghan Army uniform, opened fire on two coalition soldiers, killing them. This is not going to be an easy one for coalition forces to get past.
The actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps. This matter will be fully investigated.A statement from the Marine Corps Headquarters • Angrily criticizing a video, posted on YouTube, that appears to show Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters. However the video, which has floated around YouTube for the past day, has not been verified. The Pentagon, however, said there is no indication that the video isn’t authentic. The video has drawn a number of angry responses from officials as varied as Sen. John McCain, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Council on Islamic-American Relations. In Karzai’s case, he called the video “completely inhumane.” If the video is accurate, he’ll find us agreeing with him. source (via • follow)
Your continued solidarity, your commitment and support will be crucial so that we can consolidate our gains and continue to address the challenges that remain.Afghan President Hamid Karzai • Thanking those who pledged their support of Afghanistan during an event on Monday, in which representatives from about 100 nations and international groups met on Monday to discuss the continued financial support of the war-torn country through 2024. Foreign troops plan to exit the country by 2014, but the country will need financial help building and sustaining its own security forces. The nations there offered support — but only on the condition that the next stages in the country avoids violence and terrorism, supports the constitution, and continues to build a positive human rights record. Absent from the meeting was Pakistan, who boycotted the United States’ presence after a deadly, controversial border attack last month. source (via • follow)
The President has announced that this July will mark the beginning of a transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces. However, in my view the transition plan is too slow. We need to begin handing responsibility of security to Afghan forces immediately and aim to have most US combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of next year. We should leave behind only a small force to hunt down and kill terrorists in Afghanistan, and to help the Afghan military perform their duties.Senator Max Baucus • Calling for both a quicker withdrawal of troops, and a quicker transfer of responsibility from the U.S. military to Afghan security forces. That these conversations are starting to crop up is unsurprising; the death of Osama bin Laden, the ostensible reason the U.S. entered Afghanistan to begin with, makes this the most politically opportune time to voice such sentiments. And while the concerns in leaving quicker are by no means negligible, with a government as steeped in corruption as the Afghanistan’s is, and under a leader like Hamid Karzai (famously volatile, takes bags of money from Iran, once threatened that he might join the Taliban), what is the ultimate definition of success for the U.S. involvement there? source (via • follow)