Opps! Looks like the Afghans aren’t too keen on those proposed U.S. military bases.
President Hamid Karzai had until recently backed permanent bases. His defence minister said this month Afghanistan is eager for “enduring arrangements” with the United States, which could include air bases.
But Karzai sidestepped a question on the subject during a visit by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld this month, saying only he planned to ask President George W Bush for long-term security protection.
He reiterated his desire Tuesday for a broad security arrangement but said bases may not be right. “I don’t think the establishment of bases is in the interest of Afghanistan,” he said.
The idea of US bases is sensitive in a country that battled 19th-century British colonialists and Soviet forces from 1979 to 1989.
And a large percentage of Afghans today could be expected to oppose a permanent US presence.
“People generally would not accept it,” said Wadir Safi, a professor and cabinet minister during the 1980s. “We even now have complaints and protests about the way the Americans or coalition are conducting their operations.”
The Mujahid weekly – considered a mouthpiece of former president Burhanuddin Rabbani – said in its latest issue granting the US a permanent place in the defence setup could be deemed to be “hazardous for Afghanistan’s security and stability.”