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Afghan President Karzai's angry ultimatums have parallels in post-colonial Africa

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Scott Olson/Reuters

(Read caption) US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (r.) talks with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai during a visit to the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Thursday.

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It’s been a rough few weeks for the US-Afghan relationship.

First, some NATO soldiers were found to have burned copies of the Islamic holy book, the Quran, in an open trash heap. That sparked riots that killed more than 30. Then, last week, a US Army sergeant went off his base in Kandahar Province and murdered 16 Afghan civilians.

Small surprise, then, that Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued the US military an ultimatum. Though very few believe Karzai when he says it’s time for the US to go, this may be the last straw for Afghanistan. The world has seen this type of thing before: There are strong parallels between Karzai's warnings and those of post-colonial leaders toward their European colonizers in the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

Meeting with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Kabul, Karzai reportedly told Mr. Panetta that US-led international forces should “be withdrawn from villages and relocated in their bases.”

“We’re ready to take over all security responsibilities now,” Karzai reportedly told Panetta, according to Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi, as reported by Agence France-Presse. “We’d prefer that the process be completed in 2013, not 2014.”


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