Afghan President Hamid Karzai Thursday revealed that Washington wants to maintain nine US military bases scattered across the country after the formal deadline for the withdrawal of US and NATO coalition forces at the end of 2014.
In a speech delivered at Kabul University, Karzai stressed that he was amenable to the US demand, indicating that he was willing to trade the bases for promises of a continued flow of economic aid from the West and security for his puppet government. Another likely condition is US support for the election of his handpicked successor in an election set for next year.
"If these conditions are met, we are ready to sign the contract with the United States," he said. As to the continued presence of foreign troops on Afghan soil after more than a dozen years of war and occupation, Karzai stated, "We see their staying in Afghanistan beyond 2014 in the interests of Afghanistan as well as NATO."
The statements represented an abrupt rhetorical shift by the US-backed president. In recent months, Karzai has accused Washington of colluding with the Taliban to increase violence and create a pretext for a continued US military presence. He has repeatedly demanded an end to US aerial bombardments and to night raids by US Special Forces, which have claimed civilian lives and increased hatred for both the foreign occupation and Karzai's corrupt puppet government in Kabul.