KABUL — The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has warned that President Hamid Karzai’s harsh public statements against the United States this month could increase the risk of an attack on U.S. forces.
Gen. Joseph Dunford sent an e-mail Wednesday to his subordinate generals claiming that Karzai’s remarks could trigger more “insider attacks,” in which disgruntled or radical Afghan troops or police officers turn their weapons on U.S. troops. One such incident in Wardak province this week left two U.S. Special Operations troops dead when an Afghan policeman opened fire.
Dunford’s e-mail, first reported by the New York Times, was meant to “ensure our forces are prepared to meet potential threats and that they have a common understanding of the situation here in Afghanistan,” said Col. Thomas Collins, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Over the past month, Karzai has accused the United States of collaborating with the Taliban, torturing Afghan civilians, kidnapping university students and deliberately violating his country’s sovereignty.
After news of Dunford’s advisory was made public, Karzai released a statement saying: “My recent comments were meant to help reform, not destroy, the relationship. We want good relations and friendship with America, but the relationship must be between two independent nations.”
Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, defended the president’s recent remarks.
“There’s a lack of trust, and we believe it is appropriate for a president to respond publicly when his concerns are not taken seriously,” Faizi said.
The relationship has deteriorated to the point that concerns cited by Karzai “certainly will have a negative impact on the bilateral security agreement,” he said, referring to the accord that would allow for the presence of U.S. forces beyond 2014.