Sunday 25 February 2018

Karzai warns NATO risks becoming occupying force

Ben Farmer in Kabul

AFGHAN president Hamid Karzai has forbidden the use of NATO air strikes on houses and warned the coalition risks being seen as an occupying power by Afghans.

Failure to stop would risk a national uprising, he warned yesterday in thinly disguised reference to defeated British and Russian engagements in Afghanistan.

The comments by Mr Karzai immediately prompted a standoff with the coalition after NATO headquarters in Brussels issued a statement that air attacks "continue to be necessary".

Analysts accused the Afghan president of political posturing and questioned his ability to dictate tactics. Mr Karzai spoke two days after issuing a "final warning" to America about its military tactics after at least nine civilians, including women and children, died in a bungled helicopter strike in Helmand.

"From this moment, air strikes on the houses of people are not allowed," he said.

"If it continues, then their presence will change from a war against terrorism to an occupying force.

"And in that case, Afghan history is witness to how the Afghans deal with occupying forces," he added.

Mr Karzai said he would meet international military leaders to tell them what action he would take.

However, Ahmad Saeedi, a political analyst in Kabul, said: "He is just doing it to win the support of people. He doesn't have the possibilities, or means, to enact his threat." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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