Mr. Karzai’s vote-rigging charges have angered the Obama administration, which has expressed reluctance in conducting a May 12 meeting between Mr. Karzai and Mr. Obama at the White House.
Mr. Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, noted that the U.S. and the West chose Mr. Karzai to be Afghanistan’s president eight years ago. “Now many in the United States seem to have buyer’s remorse,” he said.
Abdullah Abdullah, a foreign minister in a previous Karzai administration, dropped out of last year’s runoff election with Mr. Karzai, citing evidence of large-scale rigging in the president’s favor. In a telephone interview with The Washington Times this week, Mr. Abdullah said Mr. Karzai’s accusations “distort reality” and warned him not to stir up animosity against Westerners.
“He is using the anti-foreigner card in a very dangerous manner,” Mr. Abdullah said. “The Afghan people expect him to deliver on good governance and eradicating corruption. These are not just Western demands.”
Meanwhile, Karl W. Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, has had several meetings with Mr. Karzai over the past few days to get a better sense of the Afghan leader’s reported remarks. These meetings have left the impression that Mr. Karzai believes what he says and is playing the anti-foreigner card to gain domestic political stature.
In a telephone conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week, Mr. Karzai sought to explain his remarks. He later told CNN that his comments were intended “just to make sure that we all understand as to where each one of us stands. … Afghanistan is the home of Afghans, and we own this place. Our partners are here to help, and we run this country.”
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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