West believes ties with antagonistic Karzai likely to become worse

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Kabul (Afghanistan), Apr.5 (ANI): Many in the West are of the view that President Hamid Karzai's antagonistic statements against NATO countries fighting on behalf of his government, could worsen the relationship.

"The political situation is continuing to deteriorate; Karzai is flailing around.

At the moment, we are propping up an unstable political structure, and I haven't seen any remotely plausible plan for building consensus," the New York Times quoted a Western diplomat in Kabul with long experience in the region, as saying.

Tensions between the West and Karzai flared up publicly last Thursday, when Karzai accused the West and the United Nations of perpetrating fraud in the August presidential election and described the Western military coalition as coming close to being seen as invaders who would give the insurgency legitimacy as "a national resistance."

Despite a conciliatory phone call to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday, his comments over the weekend only expanded the discord.

On Saturday, Karzai met with about 60 members of Parliament, mostly his supporters, and berated them for having rejected his proposed new election law.

Among other things, the proposal would have given him the power to appoint all the members of the Electoral Complaints Commission, who are currently appointed by the United Nations, the Afghan Supreme Court and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

During the meeting, Karzai stepped up his anti-Western statements, according to a Parliament member who attended but spoke on condition of anonymity.

"If you and the international community pressure me more, I swear that I am going to join the Taliban," Karzai said, according to the Parliament member.

In a speech in Kandahar on Sunday, Karzai promised local tribal elders those coalition military operations planned for the area this summer would not proceed without their approval.

Interviews with diplomats, Afghan analysts and ordinary Afghans suggest that the United States and other Western countries have three options: threaten to withdraw troops or actually withdraw them; use diplomacy, which so far has had little result; and find ways to expand citizen participation in the government, which now has hardly any elected positions at the provincial and district levels.

Threatening to withdraw would put the United States and other Western countries in the position of potentially having to make good on the promise, risking their strategic interest in a stable Afghanistan.

Few experts think the country would remain peaceful without a significant foreign force here.

Diplomacy has so far failed to achieve substantial changes, although some analysts believe the West should demand concessions before spending any more money on development projects like digging wells and building schools.

Greater power sharing, while holding promise, faces structural obstacles. (ANI)

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