US Ambassador Slams Karzai’s ‘Hurtful and Inappropriate’ Remarks
You could say Afghan President Hamid Karzai had it coming. For a while now, the beleaguered Afghan leader has been blasting the US in particular and the US-led coalition in general, often in rambling, bellicose speeches in his native Pashto or Dari.
But even by Karzai’s standards, his address to the Afghanistan Youth International Conference on Saturday hit an all-time US-bashing high.
“You remember a few years ago I was saying thank you to the foreigners for their help, every minute we were thanking them. Now I have stopped saying that,” said Karzai, before going on to add, “They’re here for their own purposes, for their own goals, and they’re using our soil for that.”
Apparently that was too much for outgoing US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry.
At the end of an address at Herat University Sunday, Eikenberry went on to “add a few words” to his prepared text.
They turned out to be more than just a few words and as the gathering of around 200 students and faculty members gravely listened, the US ambassador launched an unusually emotional response to the international coalition-bashing by “some Afghan leaders”.
Of course he didn’t name the Afghan president, but there was no mistaking who Eikenberry was referring to.
The US ambassador kicked off his personal remarks by noting that along with his wife, he would soon be leaving Afghanistan as his tenure in Kabul comes to an end.
“As we prepare to return home to my family after my most recent two years here – I must tell you that I find occasional comments from some of your leaders hurtful and inappropriate,” he said.
“When Americans, who are serving in your country at great cost – in terms of lives and treasure – hear themselves compared with occupiers, told that they are only here to advance their own interest, and likened to the brutal enemies of the Afghan people … they are filled with confusion and grow weary of our effort here,” he said.
“Mothers and fathers of fallen soldiers, spouses of soldiers who have lost arms and legs, children of those who lost their lives in your country – they ask themselves about the meaning of their loved one’s sacrifice. When I hear some of your leaders call us occupiers, I cannot look at these mourning parents, spouses, and children in the eye,” he said.
Diplomats rarely get emotional – at least not in public and certainly not on the job. But I guess even diplomats can say it as it is at the end of a Kabul posting.
But enough said. I give you Eikenberry in his own words. This speech was broadcast on the private Afghan Tolo TV station. On his Facebook post, the Tolo TV boss Saad Mohseni wrote, “Moving speech by Karl Eikenberry...”
I second that emotion.