Afghan President Hamid Karzai is asking whether an increase in radicalism across an Islamic world “in turmoil” is the result of the U.S.-led campaign against terror. In a speech on Sunday, he said the U.S. “needs to explain itself” to Muslims.
“The United States, the rest of the Western world, and our neighbors tried to impose radicalism on our resistance against the Soviet Union,” Karzai said at the 2013 U.S.-Islamic World Forum, hosted jointly by the Brookings Institute and the government of Qatar.
“The more radical we looked and talked, the more we were called mujahedin. The consequence of that was a massive effort toward uprooting traditional Afghan values and culture and tolerance.”
“When the mujahedin succeeded, the next day … the U.S. and Europe closed their embassies and left and we were left to the wishes of our neighbors and those around us,” Karzai said. “That brought us to the tragedy of September 11 and the destruction of the twin towers and the attack on America, and thus the return of the U.S. and NATO to Afghanistan.”
Now the war on terror is causing more radicalism, Karzai said.
Some in the Muslim world believe that the United States “accidental” is causing increased radicalism across the region while some believe that the United States is causing radicalism in the region on purpose, according to Karzai.
“The argument is that definitely the Muslim world has seen more radicalism, from Pakistan and Afghanistan all the way today to Mali and Nigeria. Is this the unintended consequence of the war on terror, as some would argue, or was this intended by the United States and the West, as some others would argue?” Karzai asked himself.
“In my view, the West, as led by the United States, needs to explain itself to the Muslim world,” he said. “Is the war on terror really against terrorism? If it is, and if it has caused more radicalism in the Muslim world, especially the youth, then something has gone wrong.”
Karzai went on to question whether the U.S. and NATO properly fought the war on terrorism by bringing military might into Afghan villages and homes. He also questioned whether the U.S. has gone after the sanctuaries of terrorism, a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan, where Taliban leaders are suspected to reside.
“If there is an increasing view among youth in the Muslim world that radicalism is actively promoted by the West, the question is why and for what purpose? If this is not the intention of the West, then the West has to explain to the Muslim world if things have gone wrong and a corrective course must be taken,” he said. “If we in the Muslim world are wrong about the intentions of the West, then it is for the Western world to explain to us their intentions and objectives.”
Karzai also took time during his speech to criticize the U.S. for not being an objective broker in the Middle East peace process.
“Has the U.S. given an impression to the Muslims of impartiality on the issue of Israel-Palestine? No,” he said.