Senators Say It's Time to Dump Karzai

Image: Senators Say It's Time to Dump Karzai

Wednesday, 29 Jan 2014 07:19 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Frustration with Afghan President Hamid Karzai is becoming increasingly obvious on Capitol Hill, where a number of senators have given up any hope of working out a security deal with him to leave some U.S. troops behind after the NATO military withdrawal at the end of this year.

According to the Hill, both Republican and Democratic senators reacted angrily Tuesday to Karzai's latest claim that U.S. forces are responsible for a series of insurgent attacks in Afghanistan that killed dozens, including Americans. The senators, describing Karzai as "delusional" and "divorced from reality," are calling on the administration to quit negotiating with him and to wait for a new president to take over the country after the April election to finalize a security arrangement that would maintain a small U.S. presence there.

"I think we have to get beyond Karzai and realize that, apparently, he's going to be unwilling or unable to sign an agreement and just say, 'OK, that's the facts, fine, we'll just take it up with the next president,'" Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan told The Hill.

Sen. John McCain, who met with Karzai earlier this month, agreed.

"The best thing to do is to wait until after the elections with a new president," said the Arizona Republican, who sits on both the Armed Services and Foreign Relations panels. "The overwhelming majority of people in Afghanistan want American troops left behind."

New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, also a member of the Armed Services Committee, weighed in as well.

"Karzai's comments are becoming more detached from reality, and it's a deep concern because what he said is just plainly false," she said, according to The Hill.

Ayotte added, "It makes me deeply concerned that he's almost becoming delusional in terms of what the U.S. role is there."

Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, who also sits on the Senate Armed Services panel, said in her view Karzai "clearly is divorced from reality at this point."

"We didn't go there to support Karzai. We went there to make our country safer in terms of pockets of terrorists," McCaskill told The Hill.

The administration has been pressing Karzai to sign an agreement that calls for at least several thousand U.S. troops to remain behind in Afghanistan after 2014 to continue advising and training Afghan forces. Vice President Joe Biden has called for a force of no more than 2,000 to 3,000 troops to remain, but the Gen. Joseph Dunford, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has recommended a force of at least 10,000.

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