Karzai: U.S. insurgent-style attacks undermine regime

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has frequently lashed out at the U.S. military for causing civilian casualties in its raids. But behind the scenes, he has been building a far broader case against the Americans, suggesting they may have aided or conducted shadowy insurgent-style attacks to undermine his government, according to senior Afghan officials.

Mr. Karzai has formalized his suspicions with a list of dozens of attacks that he believes the U.S. government may have been involved in, according to one palace official. The list even includes the recent bomb and gun assault on a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul, one of the bloodiest acts targeting the international community in Afghanistan, the official said. The attack, which left 21 people dead, including three Americans, was almost universally attributed to the Taliban.

But Mr. Karzai believes it was one of many incidents that may have been planned by Americans to weaken him and foment instability in Afghanistan, according to the senior palace official, who is sympathetic to the president's view and spoke on condition of anonymity. He acknowledged that his government had no concrete evidence of U.S. involvement, and that the U.S. role had not been formally confirmed.

U.S. officials, who have been informed of some of these claims, have reacted with incredulity and anger to the idea that they are trying to debilitate Afghanistan's government, which they have supported with hundreds of billions of dollars. "It's a deeply conspiratorial view that's divorced from reality," U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham said Monday. He suggested that one reason for the allegations might be to "throw us off balance."

The revelation of Mr. Karzai's list helps explain why it has been so hard to conclude a security pact that would leave thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the formal end of U.S. military operations this year. Many U.S. and Afghan officials believe that accord is vital to this country's long-term stability, but the Afghan leader has not signed it.

U.S. officials and analysts offer a variety of theories for why Mr. Karzai has come to accuse his American counterparts of deeply insidious behavior. Conscious of his legacy, he might be looking to raise his profile by confronting a superpower, some say. Or, in shifting suspicion for major attacks from the Taliban to the United States, he might be trying to endear himself to the insurgents in hopes of a reconciliation, others speculate.

The senior palace official said the president began keeping the list several years ago to catalogue what were seen as suspicious incidents that might involve the U.S. government, and added a slew of new ones over the past year.

Senior Afghan officials have provided no evidence of a U.S. role in the list's attacks, which include an assault on a Justice Ministry building in Kabul and another on a courthouse in the western province of Farah that left more than 50 people dead. The palace declined comment on the record about the allegations.


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